Computer engineering

How to immerse visitors in virtual reality?

The avatar «Victorine»
An avatar called “Victorine” created for VESPACE to experiment with a French-style dress (robe à la française). Her skin and her coloration are intended to reflect makeup standards from the 18th century.

The avatar, a virtual body

In video games, an avatar refers to a character animated according to an algorithm or operated by a player. What better way to transport a visitor to the eighteenth century than to inhabit a virtual body presenting the traits, the size, and the clothing of a person from the period?

The conception of avatars necessitates the same historical rigor as the design of the spaces through which they move. Anthropomorphic data, period clothing, and appropriate hairstyle all contribute to a robust model.

The importance of costume

Plates from Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold
Plates from Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold, a work that categorizes period costume patterns.

In order to design period costumes, a virtual couture studio was put in place. Software calculates the placement of fabric elements derived from period patterns on a digital mannequin.

Thanks to help from the designers and technicians at the Opéra de Nantes costume shop, professional expertise further refined the model. In virtual reality, just as in the real world, expert eyes are indispensable!

The Virtual Reality Headset

The stage in the Unity game engine
Image showing the stage in the Unity game engine. In this environment, all useless details are eliminated in order to ensure a fluid experience.

We are able to perceive the volume of space around us thanks to our two eyes. Each one receives a slightly different image, and this difference is coordinated in the brain to create the perception of depth, dimension, and space.

The principle of stereoscopy consists of tricking our eyes by producing images that correspond to two points of view that are slightly misaligned in space. Each eye only perceives the image shown to it, and the brain stitches them together to give the illusion of depth, even though everything is drawn on two-dimensional surfaces.

In our model, the video game engine Unity coordinates the simultaneous display for each eye.

Separated in this world… reunited in an alternative one?

Wearing a VR headset has the effect of separating the player from the elements and people all around. This aspect of the experience can be said to isolate players, cutting them off from the social environment.

In our model, however, the virtual world in which the player is immersed is not intended to remain devoid of social interactions. On the contrary, our goal is to allow for the experience of alternative kinds of relations, inserting players into different bodies and setting them free in a world governed by historical codes of comportment, much as in a role-playing game.

In this alternative reality, a battery of detectors allows for the capture and recording of the player’s location, the positioning of the hands, and even of other body parts.

Image for the left eye
Image for the left eye.
Image for the right eye
Image for the right eye.
The principle of stereoscopy