Foundations for 3D Internet Revealed

The Center for Internet Excellence (CIE) announced results from the Chiru project, which focused on laying the groundwork for 3D Internet on mobile devices. The project found out that 3D presents significant opportunities to improve the way people interact with information, but moving to three dimensional services requires creating common metaphors and vocabulary. The Chiru (3D User eXperience for Mobile Network Virtual Environments) project is a joint research initiative between University of Oulu’s Center for Internet Excellence (CIE), Nokia and Intel. The project also broke new ground, for example, on how data and services can be presented in a virtual space, and on creating design guidelines for 3D user interfaces.

3D Internet is a broad research field which covers 3D user interfaces, 3D virtual worlds, and 3D mixed reality, where networked information is mapped on real world objects.

“At CIE, our main focus is accelerating the deployment of 3D Internet services and applications. The most important question is to understand how people interact with three dimensional information and what do we need from technology to create a smooth and immersive user experience”, said Mika Ylianttila, Director, CIE. “From the business perspective, the 3D Internet space is a huge opportunity and we are seeing more and more businesses and research being built around 3D Internet. The Oulu area has unique expertise and provides a living lab environment to test and develop 3D Internet technologies and services”.

The Chiru project researched several fundamental questions about how people can interact with networked information through 3D and focused on two areas in particular: 3D User Interfaces & Experience and Networked 3D Virtual Environments. Among key research topics and results were:

  • How data and services can and should be presented in a virtual space
  • How real world objects can be captured into a 3D space with commodity hardware (game console sensor)
  • How the physical world and virtual spaces blend into a Mixed Reality
  • Portals for navigating between multiple concurrent 3D spaces
  • Several background technologies, such as energy consumption of 3D in mobile devices, WebGL-based Web Client for accessing a 3D virtual worlds, and means for simplifying data types commonly used in 3D spaces

In order for 3D Internet to gain popularity, one of the key questions is to create common vocabulary: how people understand networked 3D spaces and what are the natural ways of interacting with information in a three dimensional space. To lay the groundwork for 3D Internet, the Chiru project created design guidelines for 3D user interfaces:

  • People understand what occurs in a 3D space based on the visual appearance of the space.
  • Users are more comfortable with icons that look like natural intractable objects and expect visual cues such as glow from elements they can interact with
  • In most situations, users prefer a normal view augmented with information rather than a 3D model. However, in cluttered situations, users prefer the 3D model as it omits disruptive elements such as shadows.

The Oulu region is quickly becoming the global hub for 3D Internet with several new research projects and fast paced startup companies in the area. Many of the technologies researched in the Chiru project build on the RealExtend Open Source 3D Internet platform originally developed in Oulu. Building on the successful Chiru project, the CIE will extend 3D Internet research with several new projects:

  • CIE will continue Mixed Reality research based in a Tekes funded projects.
  • Projects and training programs together with Business Oulu and Council of Oulu region for turning research innovations into businesses and supporting the 3D Internet industry in Oulu
  • Post doctoral grant to 3D Internet research from the Academy of Finland

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