VSEL/Telepresence home page

Virtual Space Exploration Lab
and related Telepresence projects

Center for Design Research
Stanford University

This page is under construction.
Please excuse the dust and debris.

The Center for Design Research (CDR) at Stanford University has a primary focus of studying the design process and methods in practice. Having an excellent collection of engineers from many disciplines, CDR often generates ideas for potentially "fixing" problems that are observed. A well documented problem observed in design processes is the awkward interface between designers and machines. These machines may be mechanical (robots) or electronic (computers). This group of projects employs telepresence technologies in its exploration of human-machine interaction.

The Virtual Space Exploration Lab (VSEL) represents a subset of these projects that inter-relate through both collaboration or shared technologies.


Telepresence projects at CDR

Projects related to the Virtual Space Exploration Lab are marked.
(In chronological order of their starting dates)

TalkingGlove (VSEL)
(J. F. Kramer & L. Leifer) - an assistive communication device for non-speaking deaf individuals, which recognizes American Sign Language (ASL) finger-spelling to generate text or synthesized speech. Core to the TalkingGlove system is an instrumented glove and neural-net algorithm for mapping dynamic hand formations into a digital command stream. A CDR spinoff enterprise, Virtual Technologies, developed the patented technology into the Virtex CyberGlove (TM) hand instrumentation system.

(108k) CutPlane (VSEL)
(L. J. Edwards, W. A. Kessler, & L. Leifer) - a solid-modeling interaction metaphor for a standard workstation, displacing the need for orthonormal projections, command line input, and menu command selection, with of continuous 3D access. A CDR spinoff enterprise, Beyond Technologies, developed and implemented the CutPlane interface in conceptual design tool product called 3Form, which further included the concept of 3D tools to represent commands that the operator could select and apply to a 3D object in a particular location, orientation, and manner.

(D. Lees & L. Leifer) - a visual language for controlling and programming robots, RoboGlyph was created to simplify the programming of manipulation tasks for a service robot for quadriplegics. It was designed to take advantage of the presence of the user/programmer and facilitate his or her operation of the robot with graphical representations of the robot's configurations and motions. Also, force-sensing is used to detect and control interactions with the environment, so the user is not responsible for fine-positioning tasks. Experiments with RoboGlyph have shown that, after only one or two hours of training, computer literate health care professionals with no robotics experience can write working robot programs as quickly as expert robot programmers. Expert programmers who use RoboGlyph can program at least as fast as they can with textual robot programming languages, after only one hour of training. The programs written by all RoboGlyph users (sample storyboard) were much easier to read and maintain than similar programs written in textual languages.

An abstract and report (5.5MB) have been published in Proceedings of 1993 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation: A Graphical Programming Language for Robots Operating in Lightly Structured Environments, Atlanta, GA, 2-6 May 1993.

VirtualHand (VSEL)
(W. L. Chapin & J. F. Kramer) - a dynamic simulated, anthropometrically correct, hand model driven by an instrumented glove for computational recreation of the operator's dexterity. The project reached the goal to reconstruct a 3D model of a live human hand for the purpose of visual display or computational dexterous interaction with other 3D models. The interframe data required to dynamically drive the virtual hand was less than 34 bytes, a packet size compatible with standard telephone equipment at 30 Hz, independent of the visual quality of the display.

(57k) TeleSign (VSEL)
(W. Chapin, C. Haas, J. Kramer, L. Leifer, & E. Macken) - a collaborative design effort between CDR and the Center for the Study of Language and Information, leveraged from the TalkingGlove and VirtualHand projects to develop a system for visual expression and manual communication. The TeleSign system empowers two remote individuals to communicate visible gestures through a shared virtual environment across standard low-bandwidth telephone channels.

Conformal Mapping
(L. J. Edwards) - a new method for achieving interactive deformations of free-form surfaces in the design of geometric shapes. The method requires minimal user input, and allows direct manipulation of any point on the surface. Surface deformations can be highly localized or extend over a large area. Unlike traditional methods providing local control, deformations over an extended area do not require manipulation of a large number of control points. The method allows very concise definition of free-form surfaces with minimal storage requirements, and manipulation of surface patch interiors is, computationally, very inexpensive.


Virtual Fixtures as Perceptual Tools for Telepresence Tasks:
(L. Rosenberg & L. Leifer) - an application of virtual reality technologies intended to enhance human performance in telepresence tasks by introducing abstract perceptual information into the human- machine interface. This work explores the design and implementation of computer generated entities know as Virtual Fixtures composed of visual, haptic, and auditory sensations. Such fixtures are overlaid on top of the sensory feedback from a remote telepresence worksite and serve as perceptual aids for task performance. This work centers around the development of a design principle known as Design for Perception which provides a basic methodology for efficiently generating and presenting virtual percepts using perceptual rather than physical parameters.

This work is sponsored in part by: USAF Armstrong Laboratory: Human Sensory Feedback Group and NASA Ames Research Center, human factors group.

VirtualGrasp (VSEL)
(W. L. Chapin, J. F. Kramer, & L. Leifer) - an extension of the VirtualHand model to enable force closure and contact control of 3D virtual objects for dexterous manipulation. The project is the virtual parallel to the CDR project on Dynamic Tactile Sensing and Dexterous Manipulation by Chang, Hyde, and Tremblay, led by Prof. Mark Cutkosky.

DesignSpace (VSEL)
(W. L. Chapin, T. A. Lacey, & L. Leifer) - The integration of VSEL projects to form a conceptual application with these technologies for collaborative design.

Past and Present VSEL staff and CDR Telepresence group members

William L. Chapin
Laurence J. Edwards
Timothy A. Lacey
David Lees
Larry Leifer, PhD.
William A. Kessler
James F. Kramer
Louis Rosenberg
Toni W. Schneider

Similar work found on the web:

The CAVE at UIC's EVL.
A comment wrt VSEL is being prepared.
NCSA's Virtual Reality Project.
A comment wrt VSEL is being prepared.
TUDelft's Virtual Environment Projects in the Netherlands.
A comment wrt VSEL is being prepared.
If you know of similar labs or projects with home pages on the web, please send us the URL via email.

_______________________________________________ CDR Stanford PaloAlto ______

last update - 9 Mar 94