Living Environments Lab

University of Wisconsin–Madison · May 2011 – August 2013

Research Intern · Virtual Reality Research

The LEL at UW–Madison explores the connections between environment, technology, visualization, and human experience. It’s also home to a C6 CAVE: a state-of-the-art immersive virtual reality system.

I started in the lab as a student for the first Projects in Virtual Reality class. I then worked there as an hourly assistant and then a Research Intern, giving me the chance to work on cutting-edge VR research and shape the direction of a brand-new lab. Below is a selection of projects I worked on.

See also: the DSCVR System.

The Galaxy Map Project

The Galaxy Map is an immersive tour of outer space in which visitors explore solar systems and planets through beautiful interstellar visuals and a dynamic soundtrack. As part of an undergraduate team, I contributed artwork, project planning, interaction design, and level design to the project.

After showcasing at our class's final presentations in May 2011, I joined the lab staff as an hourly assistant. We started showing the project at the lab's public open houses, and by now, thousands of people have experienced the beauty of space through VR.

IEEE VR 2012 Publication

I co-authored a paper titled Effective Replays and Summarization of Virtual Experiences for the IEEE VR 2012 conference. We presented methods for summarizing virtual walkthroughs to effectively communicate the user's observations and reduce unwanted camera movements.

I was responsible for running a study on Amazon Mechanical Turk, writing and proofreading the final manuscripts, and producing a narrated video, which was submitted with the paper.

Ponto, K.; Kohlmann, J.; Gleicher, M.; “Effective Replays and Summarization of Virtual Experiences,” Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on, vol.18, no.4, pp.607-616, April 2012. doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2012.41.

Camera paths through a virtual environment, with the original camera path on the left, and the path extracted by our approach on the right. Image courtesy of Kevin Ponto.
A demonstration of the technique described in our paper.

VRST 2012 Publication

I co-authored a paper titled Online Real-Time Presentation of Virtual Experiences for External Viewers for the ACM VRST 2012 conference. In this publication we improved our previous methods from IEEE VR 2012.

I once again assisted with research and testing, ran a study on Amazon Mechanical Turk; proofread and edited the final manuscripts; and shot, edited, and narrated a project video.

Kevin Ponto, Hyun Joon Shin, Joe Kohlmann, and Michael Gleicher. 2012. Online real-time presentation of virtual experiences for external viewers. In Proceedings of the 18th ACM symposium on Virtual reality software and technology (VRST '12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 45-52. DOI=10.1145/2407336.2407346

The video submitted along with our conference publication.

SculptUp (IEEE 3DUI 2013)

As an experiment in improving interfaces for 3D creation, I worked with a multidisciplinary team of researchers and programmers to create SculptUp, an immersive modeling environment for C6 CAVEs. SculptUp makes the creation of complex, organic shapes easier and faster by letting artists create, carve away, and paint material with the aid of a handheld tool and a virtual reality environment.

The prompt for this project was the IEEE 3DUI 2013 contest, which challenged entrants to create a "world builder" interface. I was responsible for sketching interaction concepts, specifying interface requirements, creating a project video, and supporting a live remove demonstration of our tool for the conference.

Ponto, Kevin; Tredinnick, Ross; Bartholomew, Aaron; Roy, Carrie; Szafir, Dan; Greenheck, Daniel; Kohlmann, Joe, "SculptUp: A rapid, immersive 3D modeling environment," 3D User Interfaces (3DUI), 2013 IEEE Symposium on , vol., no., pp.199,200, 16-17 March 2013. doi: 10.1109/3DUI.2013.6550247

The demonstration video of our project, which became something of an amusing parody of the "World Builder" short film by Bruce Branit.