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Research Papers

A Review of the Capabilities of Current Low-Cost Virtual Reality Technology and Its Potential to Enhance the Design Process

[+] Author and Article Information
Joshua Q. Coburn

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Brigham Young University,
Provo, UT 84602
e-mail: jqcoburn@byu.edu

Ian Freeman

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Brigham Young University,
Provo, UT 84602
e-mail: ifreeman@byu.edu

John L. Salmon

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Brigham Young University,
Provo, UT 84602
e-mail: johnsalmon@byu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Computers and Information Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF COMPUTING AND INFORMATION SCIENCE IN ENGINEERING. Manuscript received July 22, 2016; final manuscript received May 16, 2017; published online July 18, 2017. Editor: Bahram Ravani.

J. Comput. Inf. Sci. Eng 17(3), 031013 (Jul 18, 2017) (15 pages) Paper No: JCISE-16-2027; doi: 10.1115/1.4036921 History: Received July 22, 2016; Revised May 16, 2017

In the past few years, there have been some significant advances in consumer virtual reality (VR) devices. Devices such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Leap Motion™ Controller, and Microsoft Kinect® are bringing immersive VR experiences into the homes of consumers with much lower cost and space requirements than previous generations of VR hardware. These new devices are also lowering the barrier to entry for VR engineering applications. Past research has suggested that there are significant opportunities for using VR during design tasks to improve results and reduce development time. This work reviews the latest generation of VR hardware and reviews research studying VR in the design process. Additionally, this work extracts the major themes from the reviews and discusses how the latest technology and research may affect the engineering design process. We conclude that these new devices have the potential to significantly improve portions of the design process.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Fidelity versus immersivity. The shaded portion represents the portion of the VR spectrum under discussion in this paper.

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Fig. 2

Typical components of a VR experience. Inner components must be included; outer components are optional depending on the goal of the application.

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Fig. 3

Images of various HMDs discussed in Sec. 3.1.2. Top left to right: Oculus Rift, Steam VR/HTC Vive, and Avegant Glyph. Bottom left to right: Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR by Oculus, and OSVR HDK. (Images courtesy of Oculus, HTC, Avegant, and OSVR).

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Fig. 4

Leap Motion™ Controller capture area. Note that newer software has expanded the tracking volume to 2.6 ft (80 cm) above the controller. Figure from the Leap Motion™ Blog [85].

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Fig. 5

Overview of the design process with applications of VR previously explored. Applications in italics represent proposed application rather than existing research.

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