Virtual Input alone does not make a virtual existence work. Outputs ? voice, facial expressions, body language. The ability to reach out and shake a hand, control a teleoperation device, or otherwise bring productive interaction back out, is as important, or perhaps more important than the inputs.
Voice. Not necessarily vocal, voice can equally be expressed in prose as it can in vocalisation. However it is expressed, a voice is a basic necessity for expression of self. A vocal virtual voice, sounding out the intent of the person, even without a physical organ backing it, is ultimately essential for life through VR to ultimately, even be considered as a serious proposition.
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A Prosthesis for Speech
Industry news from July 2008, deemed too important to allow to fade. Researchers at Boston University are developing brain-reading computer software that in essence translates thoughts into speech.
A True Virtual Voice: First Steps
Texas Instruments unveiled one of the first steps towards a true virtual voice in early 2008. A collar forming the ability to speak without using the vocal cords.
Advanced Speech Encoding
Advanced Speech Encoding, or ASE is designed to reduce the number of bits required to transmit voice signals over a data stream down to the minimum possible. For virtual environments, this would be ideal, as voice traffic takes up huge amounts of packet space, radically reducing the rest of the data flow.
Languages in Muds
A look at how to create computationally, a variety of different languages in a themed virtual environment, such that those native to one culture have a language they can communicate in, which only those who learn the language can understand. The article discusses how to set things up so that those who ?speak? it in the virtual, don?t actually have to understand that they are speaking it on a conscious level. Article has text in mind, procedure would work as well for voice.
Lip Reading and Visemes
We are just on the cusp of an age of visemes in virtual environments. Lip-synching technologies have advanced to the point where, given an input text stream, and knowing the language of said stream - how to pronounce the phonemes - a computer program can animate a virtual face with a compatible muscle structure, at the same time as it is converting text to speech.
In the modern era of VoIP and face to face communication, we are in danger of losing the power of virtual reality in a kind of mixed reality system. For whatever reason: nationality, lisp, burr, mixed gender heritage or simply being half drunk or high at the time, the market for the voice you emit to be synthetic, to be virtual is huge, preserving the integrity of the virtual world, by keeping the purely physical out.
Scent as a Communication Channel Physically and in VR?
In a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researcher Gün Semin and colleagues from Utrecht University in the Netherlands have expressed interest in the use of pheromones for communication, in all animals including humans. They postulated that scents might actually be playing a role in how we subconsciously communicate, and their results do bear out that possibility. This means there is yet another potential use for scent in virtual environments – as a means for increasing the bandwidth of interpersonal communication.
Spoken Dialogue Technology attempts to provide an exhaustive coverage of spoken dialogue systems. Based on the author?s earlier 80 page paper on the same subject, this book fleshes things out, whist still maintaining a fairly academic presentation style.
The Power of the Written Word
In a text environment, words are what carry the weight of all communication. There is no other way to express feelings and emotions. While the written word often has power, in an environment where it is the only means of communication, it has that much more power to it.
Virtual Human? How about Virtual Voice?
Previously featured Industry News from September 2003, looking at the Vocaloid technology - the creation of virtual singers using voice fonts from previous artists.
Virtual Voice: Artificial Larynx
The larynx, or voicebox is the organ responsible for much of the production of soundwaves that become speech. Sound itself is generated in the larynx, and the pitch and volume of the resultant sounds are controlled there. In addition, the force the air is expelled from the lungs, adds to volume. Without a larynx, any form of speech is not possible.
Virtual Voice: The Power of Online Communication: A Textual Voice
Textual communication, as exhibited by chat rooms, MUDs, graphic social VRs, and MMOs, is itself a form of voice, a virtual voice. There are many who cannot speak properly, through the many disabilities which can affect voice: ME which wastes muscles away; cerebral palsy, which limits fine motor control; Parkinsons, which plays with signals from the brain to the body, or simple paralysis.
Virtual Voice: Using BMI to Control an Artificial Larynx
A larynx or voicebox is a complex piece of kit to control. Creating an interface for a fully functional artificial one may be beyond us - unless we jack it straight into the brain, and let the nervous system control the new, just the same as the old.
Virtual Voices: Replicating the Sounds Produced By Big Cat Throats
It sounds highly unusual when you first consider it. After all, whilst there are people who would be quite happy to embody in the total sensory immersion of a lion or tiger avatar form, and interact with the virtual environment as a powerful feline, why would there be any desire for them to sound like one?
Vivox, Bringing Integrated Voice to Virtual Worlds
When it comes to voice, what is best is of course a voice module that can take a virtual voice as input just as well as a microphone - giving those without voices the same level of interaction as those with. That is what Vivox is working on, for Second Life and World of Warcraft.
There are twelve cranial nerve pairings (making 24 nerves in total) which split out from the brain, and move to cover the needs of the cranium and face, rather than make their way down through the central spinal cord. These nerves are important to consider, as most are of critical importance to sensory data, yet do not pass through the central cord, and so cannot be intercepted at the same juncture.
Interrupting the Brainstem
The brainstem is the part of the brain that descends just in front of the cerebellum. It drops down from the brain to meet and meld with the spinal cord rising from the body. The issue is, how do we go about hijacking the brainstem, to splice a virtual body, or artificial body parts onto it?
Proprioception is one of the main standard senses of the body, and arguably one of the most important. Unlike sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and balance, proprioception is an unconscious sense. That is to say it is one we are feeling all the time, and rarely if ever creeps into the conscious mind unless we actually sit down and think about it.
The iClub is a 3D pointer of a sort. It does not work alone, but instead is designed to be fitted to a golf club. Once attached, it uses internal gyroscopes and accelerometers to track its own position and acceleration through 3D space, reporting that information to itself, for storage and later analysis.
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This section is not concerned with the difficulties of animating facial expressions, but rather with the difficulties of tying the generation of facial expressions into the will of the user behind the avatar. For resources geared to animating facial expressions please see the Avatar Creation
Apple Image Recognition Patent
On the 10th of May 2012, Apple corporation filed a new patent, building on earlier patents they have filed, and more importantly, turned into actual technologies. It focuses on improved machine vision and image recognition algorithms. Specifically, facial and other 3D object recognition from 2D data only and in any light, on minimum computational power devices.