"New Virtual World Order"
IST Results (06/13/05)

Alterne is an Information Society Technologies (IST) project that is
working to make virtual reality technology more powerful, more flexible,
and less expensive. Alterne coordinator Marc Cavazza says the project
team wanted to revisit the original concept of virtual reality, which
was to simulate alternative worlds, not produce realistic simulations.
The project team has created software that allows a CAVE Immersive
projection screen to run on PC clusters, enabling the system to use
standard PC software such as the graphics-creation game engine used in
first-person shooter video game Unreal Tournament. The Alterne research
team has developed alternative reality software that has been placed
atop the game engine, permitting the creation of new physical laws. "Our
alternative reality software consists of a series of modules: those
dealing with causality, those dealing with physical laws, and we also
have modules which can be used to describe artificial life," says
Cavazza. The virtual reality system has been designed so that additional
modules that describe new effects can be added on an as-needed basis,
meaning that the system's only limitations are "the processing power of
the cluster and the imagination of the artist or computer scientist,"
Cavazza says. Cognitive scientists have expressed interest in using the
system to help determine how the perception of cause and effect in
humans works.


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