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A New Department: Spatial Interfaces

Bernd Froehlich, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
Mark A. Livingston, US Naval Research Laboratory

Pages: pp. 3

We thank this magazine's editor in chief, Gabriel Taubin, for providing the opportunity to introduce our new department, Spatial Interfaces. This department expands the scope of Larry Rosenblum's long-running Projects in VR department to include the ever-increasing variety of interactive interfaces and displays beyond the desktop. Virtual environments, augmented and mixed reality, 3D user interfaces, 3D games, 3D displays, and multitouch, tangible, and mobile-computing interfaces—all of these areas have produced amazing research in recent years, yet they still seem underrepresented in CG&A as well as in other IEEE magazines and journals in general.

The most innovative contributions seem to be scattered across a large number of conferences, symposia, and workshops, so our aim with the new Spatial Interfaces department is to provide a unique forum for a broad range of interrelated topics, such as the following:

  • Advanced computer vision techniques and the ubiquitous availability of depth cameras, multitouch hardware, and 3D sensors in mobile phones have significantly extended the possibilities on the input side of interfaces—not to mention the developments in brain-computer interfaces.
  • We're also big fans of work on perceptual illusions, such as redirected walking and touching.
  • The perception of self, others, and space in virtual environments is an important issue in many applications—for example, in the automotive industry when simulating a car's interior.
  • The recent surge in 3D movies and games has renewed public awareness about 3D technology's potential and brings many new spatial interfaces in the forms of 3D TV and interaction into the home.
  • Multiuser 3D displays are an enabling technology for virtual and augmented reality that was missing for many years and are slowly becoming available in various forms.
  • The omnipresent depth cameras in combination with multiuser 3D displays are reviving immersive-telepresence research with the promise of holodeck-like encounters of groups of remote people.

Applications that drive the needs for these interfaces are also appropriate for the department. We strongly encourage an emphasis on lessons learned from practical experience for articles focused on an application, particularly those in which spatial interfaces are in use outside the computer science laboratory.

The department debuts on page 6 with an article from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab and the University of British Columbia on their efforts toward the ultimate 3D output device—compressive light field displays. Enjoy!

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