In the year 2000, while working at the Fraunhofer IAO, i designed and implemented a demo version of the complex virtual reality application Boule by Mario Doulis and Andreas Simon. Boule's interaction concepts and functionality are based on highly specialized computers, spatial tracking and stereoscopic projection. The aim of the demo is to present these innovations on a at that time average desktop computer with just a mouse as the input device.

View The Demo!

A real virtual reality environment allows 6 degrees of freedom: three spacial axes x, y and z, plus the rotations around all of them. A computer monitor and a mouse just offer movement on the surface axes x and y, resulting in 2 degrees of freedom. The input device designed for Boule, Mike, had two action buttons, but the demo should also work with Macintosh computers that had only one mouse button.

In order to transport as much as possible of Boule's interaction quality, mouse movements are translated to spacial movement depending on context. Real time operations that required a super computer in 2000 are simulated with pre-calculated 3D objects.

The iF Design Awards jury was convinced by this demo. Boule was awarded with Excellence in Interaction without the jury having to visit the Institute and the complicated VR setup.

The VRML demo is still working with the last release of Cosmo Player under Windows XP. I recommend to install a fitting browser like Netscape Navigator 4.x.

Because this is quite difficult, here are some screenshots:

The virtual Cursor and a dummy object. The BMW engineers could load very detailed objects into the originbal Boule, like car parts and stencils.

The ball menu that gave Boule its name.

Boule's innovative 3D interface objects. Depending on context, mouse movements are translated into spacial movement in the demo: lights could be turned on or off, markers can be set and deleted, cutplanes moved in depth, etc.

The operation instructions explain well how the real Boule looks and works compared with the demo.