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Mirror Worlds overview

Mirror Worlds is an interdisciplinary project focused on creating a computing infrastructure for research across physical and digital environments. Each environment within Mirror Worlds is a two part system composed of a physical room/building and a coexisting virtual model of that physical space. Users of an environment are not just visitors to a physical space or virtual model, but are also participants whose behavior influences the environments’ forms and functions. The virtual and physical aspects of the environment are connected with one another through a coordinate-based data networking system to enable user interaction with the rest of the system including environment objects and other users.

A 3-D representation of the main lobby of the Moss Arts Center, along with the fisheye cameras placed in the ceiling to track people.

A project funded by the National Science Foundation, Mirror Worlds researches human interaction by studying behavior and emotion in both the physical and virtual environment. Sensors placed around the Moss Arts Center track people in the physical space and then generate a digital version of those people at those same locations in a virtual building. People will also be able to access the virtual model of the building online and see both online visitors and the tracked representations of real people currently in the physical building. The project hopes to create a shared space, with portals between the physical and virtual, where people can interact with each other and explore the Moss Arts Center.

The Mirror Worlds infrastructure provides the foundation for experimentation and research on a wide variety of topics. Specific areas of interest include parallels between behavior in real and virtual spaces, the effects of fidelity in virtual environments on performance in physical environments, crowd model simulation and evaluation, the relationship between behavior and affect in a public venue, and computational models of energy-efficient buildings. 


5 RESEARCH DOMAINS


1. Assessing Correspondence of Behavioral Trends Between Physical and Virtual Environments

2. The Effects of Level of Fidelity on Transfer Between Virtual and Real Environments

3. Investigating Socially Plausible Crowd Behaviors for Virtual Crowd Simulation

4. Ambient Monitoring for Studying Behavior and Affective Change

5. Energy-efficient buildings




4 ASPECTS OF MW


1. PP: Interactions between entities in the physical environment

Two people interacting in a building (e.g. talking, bumping into one another)


2. PV: Interactions from the physical world shown in the virtual world

People in the physical space appearing virtually(e.g. avatars)


3. VP: Interactions from the virtual environment in the physical world

Virtual entities depicted in the physical space (e.g. floor tiles lighting up to indicate entity location)


4. VV: Interactions between entities in the virtual world

Two virtual entities interacting (e.g. chat, bumping into one another)



A PORTAL BETWEEN THE PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL


Displays in both physical and virtual spaces allow for people to receive information about the environment. Televisions and tablet displays placed throughout the building create “mirrors” from a physical environment and reflect the virtual counterpart back to the viewer. People present in a physical space can also be identified virtually as avatars that have a unique shape or color, and people in a virtual space can be represented in physical spaces through floor projections.


People will also be able to access the virtual model of the building online and see both online visitors and the tracked representations of real people currently in the physical building. The project hopes to create a shared space, with portals between the physical and virtual, where people can interact with each other and explore the Moss Arts Center.


Mirror worlds are distinguished from other virtual representations of the real world by providing real-time mapping from real world objects to software equivalents.



5 Chief Qualities:

-Existential Correspondence: people the real world exist as Avatars in the virtual world. .


-Ontological Correspondence: objects and attributes from the real world are reflected to some fidelity in the virtual world. This is evident in such systems as the real-time point-cloud streams examined by Hong et al [Hong et al. 2009].


-Spatial Correspondence: the location of scenery and objects in the virtual world corresponds to the positioning of their real world counterparts. This is most common in systems rooted in GIS data, such as Google Earth, or the VRML-based system presented by Huang and Lin.


-Temporal Reflection: real world events are reflected in the virtual world as they occur. This is very common in systems designed to reflect the real world via sensors, such as the BT Tracker system [Johnson 2011]. Some languages have content models specifically designed for this, such as the OGC’s SensorML[Botts and Robin].


-Persistence: the virtual world exists even when no one is logged in. This is exhibited by most client-server systems, msuch as Google Earth, Second Life, and World of Warcraft; all of these maintain the state of the world at all times, regardless of users’ logged in states.



The project brings together computer scientists, architects, and humanities researchers to address a variety of cross-disciplinary research questions about digital and physical environments and the activities that happen in those spaces. Through these explorations, the project will increase opportunities for a diverse group of people to discover, learn about, and participate in a variety of fields through these collaborative research questions. The project will have lasting benefits to society through its exploration of distance learning, human experience, and social interaction.

 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1305231. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.