Media Technology
Research Centre
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  Virtual Physics for Virtual Reality
  We are investigating ways of giving every object in virtual environments a full range of physical properties. Such environments include those used for gaming and training, especially large scale ones those shared across networks. This way, every object will behave the way you expect and every object can potentially be combined with other objects with the correct resulting behaviour.

Most virtual environment games offer you a world which is mainly 3D wallpaper: you can look at it but you cannot manipulate it. Some objects are treated in a special way, by having code attached which permits you to interact with them. These objects are chosen by the designer of the world and so your options are limited by the designer's intentions and imagination.

Our approach is to give every object its own mix of physical properties which, in conjunction with a library of simulation packages, ensures that it shows its own have physically-plausible behaviour, even when combined with other objects. Mechanisms can be built and electrical circuits constructed, often in ways not envisaged by the VR designer; yet the correct behaviours will emerge.

The benefits include greater ease of use (because the VR will behave in familiar ways), more efficient construction of large-scale environments (because there is no need to attach special code to every "live" object), and the option of dynamically changing the physical rules (for example, turning off gravity while examining a componet but putting it back on when training to fit it into place.)

picture of Ali Abdur-Rahman picture of Florian
Schanda picture of Phil Willis
Ali Abdur-Rahman   Florian Schanda   Phil Willis
  Research Results

Virtual Physics Examples

Here are the results of our current work, including some movies captured from interactive demonstrations.

Current results

Here are some earlier results, partly from undergraduate and masters projects. In each case there is a complete interactive demonstration, with the user having full control over how the scene is set up. The correct behaviour then emerges from this.

Early results

Virtual Physics Papers

  • "Virtual Physics for Virtual Reality", P J Willis, Conference "Theory and Practice of Computer Science", 3-5 June 2004, IEEE.
  Funding Agency
  The work is funded by the Department of Computer Science, University of Bath.
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