The CHIP Advanced Interactive Technology Center (AITC) is a University of Connecticut service center that provides equipment and design expertise to researchers interested in developing and using interactive technologies to expand their research capabilities. Interactive media applications available through the CHIP AITC include animations, web-based 3D interactive graphics and Virtual Reality (VR) environments and simulations. Users and Participants can interact with the applications with motion capture equipment, data gloves, magnetic tracking systems, and 3D infra red cameras. CHIP AITC staff members educate researchers new to using interactive technologies about their functionality and applications. They also help researchers determine the best applications to use to meet their research objectives and will work with researchers to design and build applications that meet their specific project needs.
The CHIP AITC allows researchers to accrue the benefits of using advanced interactive technologies for their research projects without the associated equipment costs and investment of time to learn about the technologies and design and build their own applications.
Benefits of Using Advanced Interactive Technologies
Virtual reality (VR) and other interactive technologies have been proven to be effective tools for research at universities around the world. With VR, researchers are able to immerse subjects in
situations that would be cost- prohibitive, dangerous or even impossible in the real world in order to test their real-time responses to those situations.
Research has demonstrated that VR environments and simulations can be sufficiently realistic to elicit physiological responses from study participants similar to those they would exhibit in the real-world equivalent situations. For example, a study participant with a fear of flying might exhibit the same physiologic responses when boarding a virtual plane as he or she would when boarding a real plane.
VR and other interactive graphics also allow researchers to repeat experiments in a controlled and cost-effective way.
CHIP AITC Capabilities
The CHIP AITC, housed on the second floor of the J. Ray Ryan Building on UConn’s Storrs campus, has a production facility capable of creating interactive media applications, including animations, web-based 3D interactive graphics and VR environments and simulations.
Content production hardware includes 2 Cintiq 20WSX interactive pen displays and 3Dconnexion SpacePilot 3D controllers to aid in the rapid creation of 3D environments.
Content production software includes:
- Vizard Virtual Reality Toolkit (Worldwiz) including Complete Characters
- Autodesk 3ds Max
- RealVIZ Image Modeler
- Sony Media Collection (Vegas, DVD, ACID, Sound Forge)
- Inquisit, Direct RT and Medialab experimentation software
The equipment used for immersing research subjects in VR environments and simulations includes head-mounted display devices (Z800 3D Visor) augmented with Polhemus Patriot motion tracking using optical tracking (PPT, Precision Position Tracking system, including sensors and tracking cameras) suitable for tracking a participant walking in a large open space up to 900 feet square. Thus, participants can move through virtual environments in one of three ways: using a joystick (roller ball) while seated at a computer, by walking around monitored by sensors that have cords, or by a cordless optical tracking system. Hand movements and gestures can be tracked using 5DT data gloves available in the lab or using button presses on a joystick.
Working with the CHIP AITC
To learn more about the CHIP AITC and how the center and its staff can help you meet your research objectives, please contact AITC Director Timothy Gifford at Timothy.Gifford@uconn.edu or (860) 486-8967.
Please also contact Timothy Gifford to request AITC staff services or equipment rentals.
CHIP AITC in the News
Conducting Virtual Reality Research
UConn Today, Feb. 24, 2010
Hartford Courant headline
Hartford Courant, June 12, 2009
WNPR’s Where We Live, March 25, 2009