Investigation of a Generic Software Interface for the PressureMat
Inclusive Dates: 08/28/04 01/14/05
Background - Under the Institute's internal research and development program, the Training, Simulation and Performance Improvement Division and the Automation and Data Systems Division developed a prototype PressureMat system (see Figure 1). The PressureMat uses pattern recognition algorithms to translate pressure patterns of a user walking in place on the mat to produce a corresponding motion in the virtual environment. This prototype demonstrates that repeatable patterns can be identified and recognized to produce simulated motion based on a set of predefined walking motions or "gestures" (see Figure 2). The PressureMat system can detect if the user is walking forward, walking backward, sidestepping right or left, or standing still. These data can be fed to a virtual reality application to move the user's viewpoint. The original PressureMat internal research project produced a demonstration allowing the user to walk in a simple virtual environment.
Approach - The purpose of this quick-look project was to develop a generic software interface to the PressureMat to better demonstrate its capabilities to potential clients. This interface was used to map the PressureMat inputs to America's Army, a commercial off-the-shelf PC game used for Army training. Our generic PressureMat interface receives input via a network connection from the gesture recognizer. The interface then sends out mock mouse and keyboard messages to the operating system. For example, in America's Army, users can move forward by pressing the W key. On detecting a forward step, the PressureMat interface sends out a W keyboard message. America's Army detects the W message, and then moves the user forward. Similarly, inputs from a tracker on the user's head are mapped to mouse messages, which America's Army uses to change the user's viewpoint. When the user moves his head, the PressureMat interface sends mouse motion messages so that America's Army shows the appropriate view.
Accomplishments - The PressureMat demonstration graphics are greatly improved by using the PressureMat as an input device to America's Army. The software techniques used for this project can be applied to interface other custom hardware to COTS software.