What ACE means for VR
ACE, or Autonomous City Explorer, is an embodied robot system, a development of the Institute of Automatic Control Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. It is essentially, an interaction and mapping paradigm, whereby if the robot does not have the first clue where it is going, it stops and asks someone, then interprets their instructions.
ACE also uses its own city knowledge - for example, not to swerve out in front of a moving car, but relies on humans for general navigation. However, we are not interested in its navigation achievements here. Instead, one of the new interaction methods ACE employs, is of interest for quite different applications.
Posture recognition is a development of machine vision and gesture analysis. A derivative of advanced machine vision, it involves moving on from identifying a subject as humanoidish, to identifying how they are standing, how they are moving, determining the position of the limbs, without markers. Two possibilities for such a technology are readily apparent.
ACE only has one camera, which it uses to gauge the posture of a human - if they point, or even if they stand there, arms crossed, following leg and head movement. Such a technology offers the possibility of single-camera MoCap systems, to at least get the general details of a person's posture, if not a precise calculation. This concept could be utilised in a VR, to simply determine from physical positioning, which pre-rendered sequence file to run, for the avatar.
It is well known that text (or speech) is only a tiny fragment of the communication medium. Text especially is only 3%. Now, if it is possible via a webcam to understand the posture of the person typing, it is possible to replicate that, as above. However, instead of just triggering sequence files when desired, having it on all the time, would result in emotional inflection being present across all speech systems, with the virtual body presenting a wider range of memes coupled to the true earnesty of the individual typing.
Very handy for those who lack a spoken voice, and thus the inflection that comes with such.