Seminario:Methods for Natural Walking in Virtual Reality

El miércoles 28 de febrero a las 13:00, en el Seminario del DIIS, tendrá lugar una charla impartida por Niall L. Williams (University of Maryland, College Park), abierta a cualquier persona interesada.


Speaker: Niall L. Williams, University of Maryland (

Place, date and time: February 28th, DIIS Seminar, 13:00h


Abstract: Exploration of large, complex virtual environments is an integral part of an immersive experience in virtual reality (VR). However, safe exploration of virtual environments is difficult since the virtual world is generally much larger than the user's physical environment, meaning that an unobstructed path in the virtual world may correspond to an obstructed path in the physical world. Locomotion interfaces are techniques that allow users to move through virtual environments without colliding with physical objects. Existing interfaces, such as walking-in-place or teleportation, can enable long-distance exploration, but are not immersive due to their unrealistic controls. Interfaces that let users navigate using natural, everyday walking are usually preferred since they are more intuitive and create a higher sense of presence, but they usually require a large physical space in order to be used effectively.

In this talk, I will discuss how we combine techniques from human visual perception and robot motion planning to develop new algorithms that enable users to explore large virtual environments using natural walking, with a focus on interfaces that can function outside of controlled lab environments. To achieve this, we leverage the concept of alignment to develop new locomotion interfaces that take into account the structure of both the physical and virtual environment to optimally steer the user away from physical obstacles that they cannot see. Additionally, we introduce new algorithms that are built using a formalization of the VR locomotion problem based on motion planning. Our mathematical formalization allows us to leverage techniques from robot motion planning and computational geometry to develop steering algorithms that are more easily generalizable to different environment layouts without requiring us to change the algorithm implementation. Finally, I will present ongoing work that leverages interactable components of the virtual environment to further influence users to travel on collision-free paths while providing an immersive virtual experience.

Bio: Niall is a PhD student at the University of Maryland where he is advised by Prof. Dinesh Manocha and Prof. Ming Lin. His research interests include virtual/augmented reality, human perception, computer graphics, and robotics. Niall has interned at Meta Reality Labs and NVIDIA Research, and received his bachelor's degree in computer science from Davidson College.