Introduction to Virtual/Augmented Reality and Telepresence


(Fall 2017)


Ivan Sutherland`s HMD (1968)

Modern HMDs (Today)


General Information

Instructor: Pierre Boulanger
Tel: 780-492-3031

Office: 411 Athabasca Hall
Office hours: By appointment only.

Lectures: Tuesday and Thursdays 13h00 to 14h20 in CSC B 41

Course Description

Virtual reality and augmented reality can provide an immersive environment where many scenarios can be simulated. For example, manufacturing and engineering tasks, medical planning and training, art and design, rehabilitation, Physics, Biology and Chemistry concept exploration and many others can benefit from a virtual reality environment. This course focuses on the challenges of setting up a user friendly virtual reality scene where users can interact in an intuitive and natural way. The use of interactive techniques and sensor-based devices, such as haptic and head-mount display, in creating a virtual environment for scientific analysis, visualization exploration and Tele-presence, as well as how mobile users can participate in these applications, will be discussed.


Some knowledge of computer graphics and multi-media systems



Homework will generally be handed out in lecture and be due in lecture on the following week. Some parts of the homework will involve C or C++ programming.

There will be 5 problem sets. Don't be misled by the relatively few points assigned to homework grades in the final grade calculation. While the grade that you get on your homework is at most a minor component of your final grade, working the problems is a crucial part of the learning process and will invariably have a major impact on your understanding of the material.


Course Project

There will be a group project, culminating in a final 10 pages report in IEEE format and a presentation at a day workshop. Progress and check points before the final due date will count toward the final grade.


Course Grade

The final grade for the course is based on our best assessment of your understanding of the material, as well as your commitment and participation. The problem sets and final projects are combined to give a final grade:




Final Project


Assignments (5 x 10%)



Lecture Notes



Course calendar.





W1: Sept. 5

First Class

Class overview and Irene presentation

Class Overview



W1: Sept 7


o   Definition of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Virtualized Reality, and Telepresence

o   Generic Configuration of Virtual Reality Systems (image rendering systems, sound rendering systems, haptic rendering systems, communication systems, physical modeling systems, etc.)

o   Brief overview of the applications of Virtual Reality (in remote robotic control, in medicine, in e-commerce, in communication, in industrial design)



W2: Sept. 12

History of VR


W2: Sept. 14

Short Review of Computer Graphics

o   Overview and Transformations


Installing Unity 3D


1. Cameras

2. Image Effects: Overview


1. Meshes

2. Mesh Renderers and Mesh Filters

Assignment 1: Due Sept. 29

W3: Sept. 19

o   Lighting and Shading



1. Unity 5 Lighting Overview

2. Unity 5 - Lighting and Rendering

3. Lights

4. Using Skyboxes


The Standard Shader

2. Materials

3. Textures

4. A Gentle Introduction to Shaders

5. Using detail textures for extra realism close-up

6. Frame Debugger

W3: Sept. 21

Introduction to Human Vision

VR-Human Vision


Group Description Due

W4: Sept. 26

Visual Rendering Systems

o   Basic characteristics of human visual perception

o   Stereoscopic display systems (LCD, CRT, HMD, flat, panoramic, and hemispheric screens, etc.)

o   Detailed analysis of advanced visualization systems

o   New display devices such as real-time auto-stereogram and retinal writing

o   Cinematic display


Assignment 2: Due October 13

W4: Oct. 28

o   First AMMI Lab Visit

W5: Oct 3

o   Display Systems Continue



W5: Oct. 5

Digitizing the Human Body

o   Three-dimensional position sensors (magnetic, ultrasound, photogrammetric, mechanical, and inertial sensors)


W6: Oct. 10 and Oct. 12

o   No class



W7: Oct. 17

o   Digitizing fine body motion and forces (DataGlove, CyberGlove, PowerGlove, DHM Dexterous Hand Master, etc.)


Assignment 3: Due October 27

W7: Oct. 19

o   Tracking Continue


Project Description Due

W8: Oct. 24

o   Presentation by Dr. Liliane Machado

o   Review of student projects

List of Projects

MedBIKE Survey

Due Friday October 27

W8: Oct. 26

Sound Rendering Systems

o   Basic characteristics of human auditory perception

o   Synthesis of 3D sound (convolvotrons, Beachtrons and Acoustetrons, simple 3D sound)

o   Unity 3D Sound Spatializer


Assignment 4: Due November 17

W9: Oct. 31

Haptic Rendering Systems


o   Human requirements for good haptic perception

o   Tactile and force feedback (difference between tactile and force feedback, various tactile feedback systems, haptic rendering, force feedback systems)

o   Combination of tactile and force feedback.



W9: Nov 2

Computing Architectures

  • Graphic requirement of human perception vs. VR graphic engines
  • Basic architecture of a VR graphic engine (graphic pipeline, graphic cards for PC, etc.)
  • Detail analysis of modern graphic hardware
  • Highly parallel VR graphic engines
  • Distributed virtual reality systems



W10: Nov. 7

No class today

W10: Nov. 9

Visit of the SERVIER Virtual Cardiac Centre

We all meet at the AMMI Lab at 13h00 sharp


W11: Nov. 14 to Nov. 16

Fall reading week



W12: Nov. 21

Modeling for VR


o   Geometric Modeling (geometric primitives, scene hierarchies, constructive geometry, etc.)

o   Cinematic Model (object motion, collision detection, navigation models, motion hierarchies, etc.)

o   Physical Modeling (gravity, collision, deformable model, surface texture, etc.)

o   Behavioral Modeling (Artificial life, responsive model, etc.)

o   Model segmentation (segmentation in cells, LOD, etc.)

o   Modeling real-life from sensors



W12: Nov. 23

Modelling for VR Continue


Assignment 5: Due Dec. 9

W13: Nov. 28

VR Programming


o   Java 3D

o   Vizard Toolkit

o   Unity 3D

o   MiddleVR

o   Scanning Demo



KScan3D Tutorials

W13: Nov. 30

Human Factors in VR


W14: Dec. 5

Augmented Realty


W14: Dec. 7

Tele-presence and Cinematic VR



W15: Dec. 12

Applications of VR and AR


o   Medicine and rehabilitation (surgery, anatomic simulator, remote surgery, hybrid systems)

o   VR games

o   Arts (virtual actors, virtual museum, virtual music, virtual theatre)

o   Virtual product design (CAD display, process simulation, virtual prototyping)

o   Robotic (robot and virtual reality, design of robots, robot programming, supervisory control, the Mars Rover)

o   Teaching systems (military training 'SIMNET', NASA training systems, flight simulators)

o   Virtual teleconferencing systems


W15: Dec. 14

Students Presentations and Demos



W15: Dec 16

Final Report Due



Additional Recommended Books

Developer References

Research Articles

Other Online Resources


Internet Links