Tele-immersion is designed and developed to allow users in geographically distributed sites to collaborate in real-time in a shared simulated environment. This enterprise has engaged the skills of researchers in a variety of disciplines, including computer vision, graphics and network communications.
Tele-Immersion (TI) is defined as the integration of audio and video conferencing, via image-based modeling, with collaborative virtual reality (CVR) in the context of data-mining & significant computation. Tele-Immersion is a new medium that enables a user to share a virtual space with remote participants. The user is immersed in a 3D world that is transmitted from a remote site. This medium for human interaction, enabled by digital technology approximates the illusion that a person is in the same physical space as others, even though they may be thousands of miles distant. It combines the display and interaction techniques of virtual reality with new computer-vision technologies. Thus with the aid of this new technology, users at geographically distributed sites can collaborate in real-time in a shared, simulated, hybrid environment submerging in one another presence and feel as if they are sharing the same physical space.
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Tele-immersion technology utilizes arrays of cameras and microphones to capture 3D scenes in real time. By having this setup at multiple remote sites and streaming the 3D data between the various locations one can provide users with a level of interaction currently not attainable by conventional 2D systems. In a tele-immersive system users, represented as 3D data, are merged into a common virtual environment where they can interact with other remote users and/or interact with shared non-existent virtual objects placed in the environment with them. The main goal of our work is to design and build a portable, reconfigurable and inexpensive tele-immersive system from commercial off-the-shelf components.
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The 3D effect behind the tele-immersion makes it feel like the real thing. The ultimate goal of TI is not merely to reproduce a real face-to-face meeting in every detail, but to provide the “next generation” interface for collaborators, worldwide, to work together in a virtual environment that is seamlessly enhanced by computation and large databases. When participants are tele-immersed, they are able to see and interact with each other and objects in a shared virtual environment. Tele-immersion can be of immense use in medical industry and it also finds its application in the field of education CAVE.
In a tele-immersive environment computers recognize the presence and movements of individuals and objects, track those individuals and images, and then permit them to be projected in realistic, multiple, geographically distributed immersive environments on stereo-immersive surfaces. This requires sampling and resynthesis of the physical environment as well as the users’ faces and bodies, which is a new challenge that will move the range of emerging technologies, such as scene depth extraction and warp rendering, to the next level.
Potential Applications: There is huge block of the applications provided bt tele-immersion. Some of the main applications are as follows:
- Tele-immersive systems have potential to significantly change educational, scientific and manufacturing paradigms. They will show their full strength in the systems where having 3D reconstructed ‘real’ objects coupled with 3D virtual objects is crucial for the successful fulfillment of the tasks. It may also be the case that some tasks would not be possible to complete without having such combination of sensory information.
- There are several applications that will profit from tele-immersive systems. Collaborative mechanical CAD applications, as well as different medical applications, are two that will benefit significantly. For example, a group of designers will be able to collaborate from remote sites in an interactive design process. They will be able to manipulate a virtual model starting from the conceptual design, review and discuss the design at each stage, perform desired evaluation and simulation, and even finish off the cycle with the production of the concrete part on the milling machines.
- In the case of medical applications such as teleradiology and urgent diagnostics, the availability of such technologies in the places that are physically inaccessible to specialists could potentially save the lives. Off-shore ships and oil rigs are good examples of such environments.
- Tele-immersion will enable researchers to collaborate in fields such as architecture, medicine, astrophysics and airplane design. It allows widely separated people to share a complex virtual experience.
- Tele-immersion is not just a research tool. Restaurants fitted with tele-immersion booths will enable people far away from home to have dinner with their family. The gaming industry is another potential user. Players could tele-immerse themselves in a virtual reality environment, chasing monsters or firing phasers at each other.
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