Section: Research Program

Exploring and enhancing input/output interaction space

The Potioc project-team will be widely oriented towards new innovative input and output modalities, even though standard approaches based on keyboard/mouse and standard screens will not be excluded. This includes motor-based interfaces, and physiological interfaces like BCI, as well as stereoscopic display and augmented reality setups. These technologies may have a great potential for opening 3D digital worlds to everyone, if they are correctly exploited.

We will explore various input/output modalities. Of course, we will not explore all of them at the same time, but we do not want to set an agenda either, for focusing on one of them. For a given need fed by end-users, we will choose among the various input/output modalities the ones that have the biggest potential. In the following paragraphs, we explain in more details the research challenges we will focus on to benefit from the existing and upcoming technologies.

Real-time acquisition and signal processing

There is a wide number of sensors that can detect users' activity. Beyond the mouse that detects x and y movements in the plane, various sensors are dedicated to the detection of 3D movements, pressure, brain and physiological activity, and so on. These sensors provide information that may be very rich, either to detect command intent from the user, or to estimate and understand the user's state in real-time, but that is difficutly exploitable as it. Hence, a major challenge here is to extract the relevant information from the noisy raw data provided by the sensor.

An example, and important research topic in Potioc, is the analysis of brain signals for the design of BCI. Indeed, brain signals are usually measured by EEG, such EEG signals being very noisy, complex and non-stationary. Moreover, for BCI-based applications, they need to be processed and analyzed in real-time. Finally, EEG signals exhibit large inter-user differences and there are usually few examples of EEG signals available to tune the BCI to a given user (we cannot ask the user to perform thousands of time the same mental task just to collect examples). As such, appropriate signal processing algorithms must be designed in order to robustly identify EEG patterns reflecting the user's intention. The research challenges are thus to design algorithms with high performances (in terms of rate of correctly identified user's state) anytime, anywhere, that are fully automatic and with minimal or no calibration time. In other words, we must design BCI that are convenient, comfortable and efficient enough so that they can be accepted and used by the end-user. Indeed, most users, in particular healthy users in the general public are used to highly convenient and efficient input devices (e.g., a simple mouse) and would not easily tolerate systems with a lower performance. Achieving this would make BCI good enough to be usable outside laboratories, e.g., for video gamers or patients. This will also make BCI valuable and reliable evaluation tools, e.g., to understand users' state during a given task. To address these challenges, pattern recognition and machine learning techniques are often used in order to find the optimal signal processing parameters. Similar approaches may contribute to the analysis of signals coming from other input devices than BCI. An example is the exploitation of depth cameras, where we need to find relevant information from noisy signals. Other emerging technologies will require similar attention, where the goal will be to transform an unstructured raw signal into a set of higher level descriptors that can be used as input parameters for controlling interaction techniques.

Restitution and perceptive feedback

Similarly to the input side, the feedback provided to the user through various output modalities will be explored in Potioc. Beyond the standard screens that are commonly used, we will explore various displays. In particular, in the scope of visual restitution, we will notably focus on large screens and tables, mobile setups and projection on real objects, and stereoscopic visualization. The challenge here will be to conceive good visual metaphors dedicated to these unconventional output devices in order to maximize the attractiveness and the pleasure linked to the use of these technologies.

For example, we will investigate the use of stereoscopic displays for extending the current visualization approaches. Indeed, stereoscopic visualization has been little explored outside complex VR setups dedicated to professional users and 3DTV. We believe that this modality may be very interesting for non-expert users, in wider contexts. To reach this goal, we will thus concentrate on new visual metaphors that benefit from stereoscopic visualization, and we will explore how, when, and where stereoscopy may be used.

Depending on the targeted interaction tasks, we may also investigate various additional output modalities such as tangible interaction, audio displays, and so on. In any case, our approach will be the same: understanding how new perceptive modalities may push the frontier of our current interactive systems.

Creation of new systems

In addition to the exploration and the exploitation of existing input and output modalities for enhancing interaction with 3D content, we may also contribute to extend the current input/output interaction space by building new interactive systems. This will be done by combining hardware components, or by collaborating with mechanics/electronics specialists.