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Equipe de recherche ALCOVE

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Introduction

Our project aims at defining new methods and tools for cooperative frameworks. This work is at the edge of several research areas : physical modeling, virtual reality, and HCI.

Animation and physically-based simulation is a very active research field. Recent advances, to which our research work contributes, now allow users to interact with physically-based models. Surgical simulation is one of the areas that benefits from this research.

During the last decade, numerous research works have been carried out that aim at immersing users into virtual worlds. Besides technological aspects (VR devices, ..), these new tools require new kinds of interaction between the users and the environment, as classical WIMP interfaces are no longer suited. It is now clear that many applications do not require the user to be fully immersed into the environment, thus opening a new research area : finding the best compromise between immersion-based realism and new models that allow to navigate in and to interact with the virtual world.

Graphical Human-Computer Interfaces are now a basic part of any computer. However, they are not well suited to current applications like communication and collaborative work. New research is beeing carried out in order to make them more user-friendly in cooperative environments (Collaborative Virtual Environment, Tangible User Interface).

Our project deals with these three research areas. In the animation and simulation field, we aim at defining virtual objects behaving like real ones. As far as Virtual Reality is concerned, we focus on providing the users with natural interaction with computer models. Last, we contribute to the HCI community by proposing and experimenting new interaction models and 3D interfaces between the users and the computer objects. Our team has been developing for several years a non-immersive 3D environment mimicking a meeting room. A group of users, each one using its own computer, can meet in a virtual office and work together. Such a concept involves new problems, like manipulating virtual objects inside a cooperative framework (how to model real objects ? how to interact with these models ?).

Our research currently focuses on fives subjects: one on physical models, one on Collaborative Virtual Environments and three around interactions : 3D HCI, tactile actuators, interaction between virtual objects in physical simulation. We focus on the medical field as main application area. We target tools (both numerical and hardware) for medical simulation, as well as for improval of patient rehabilitation .

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