University of California San Diego researchers announced recently that they have begun using EEG and eye tracking technology inside of their CAVE 3D immersive reality center. CAVE systems, like the one at UCSD, are used to create fully immersive 3D environments that give users the illusion of being in the environment that researchers are trying to examine.
In the case of the UCSD CAVE, researchers are using the system to study the design and layout of buildings designed by the schools architecture program. This allows researchers to conduct full walkthroughs of the hospital design, before construction begins. They have been using eye tracking technology to help determine where CAVE users are looking inside of the virtual 3D hospital environment. With this information, researchers and the building architects to determine what does, or maybe more importantly doesn’t, draw the attention of the CAVE users and adjust the design accordingly. For example, if CAVE users are wondering aimlessly around the building because they cannot identify the buildings signage, researchers and designers would be able to test several different sizes and placements of directional signs, without the cost of production and installation.
Similar research about the integration of eye tracking technology into 3D CAVE systems is taking place at the Desert Research Institute, in Nevada. Researchers at DRI are currently incorporating the Eye-Com EC7T into their CAVE system to capture information about user gaze direction, in addition to allowing users more control over their movement through the virtual environment.