VRoxy: A Souped-Up Telepresence Robot Enhancing Collaborative VR Experiences

Researchers from Cornell and Brown University have developed a telepresence robot called VRoxy. VRoxy responds automatically and in real-time to a remote user’s movements and gestures made in virtual reality. It is a cutting-edge robotic system that enables remote collaboration in a large space from a small office or workspace.

Introducing VRoxy: The Future of Remote Collaboration

VRoxy is revolutionizing the way teams collaborate remotely. With this innovative telepresence robot, a user wearing a VR headset can seamlessly collaborate with teammates in a virtual environment. By leveraging virtual reality technology, VRoxy offers two view modes to enhance the collaboration experience.

Live Mode: Immersive Collaboration in Real Time

In Live mode, users can see a real-time immersive image of the collaborative space, allowing them to interact with local collaborators. This mode ensures seamless communication and collaboration between remote and local team members.

Navigational Mode: Smooth Mobility and Reduced Motion Sickness

Navigational mode displays rendered pathways of the room, enabling remote users to navigate and “teleport” to desired locations. This feature enhances mobility, making it quicker and smoother for remote users to move around and collaborate effectively. It also helps alleviate motion sickness commonly associated with virtual reality experiences.

The automatic nature of VRoxy eliminates the need for manual steering, allowing remote teammates to focus solely on collaboration. Users can occupy a limited amount of space but interact in a much larger remote environment, thanks to the VR technology employed in VRoxy.

In addition to its advanced features, VRoxy automatically mimics the user’s body position and nonverbal cues using a 360-degree camera, a monitor displaying facial expressions captured by the user’s VR headset, a robotic pointer finger, and omnidirectional wheels. This ensures a heightened sense of presence and communication.

Looking ahead, the researchers envision incorporating robotic arms into VRoxy. This exciting feature would enable remote users to interact with physical objects in real time, further enhancing the collaboration experience.

VRoxy’s automatic responsiveness is invaluable for both remote and local teammates. It allows remote users to participate in group activities held in larger spaces, such as design collaborations. The robot proxy helps bridge the gap between physical and virtual presence, providing a seamless collaboration experience.

This groundbreaking research, titled “VRoxy: Wide-Area Collaboration From an Office Using a VR-Driven Robotic Proxy,” will be presented at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) from October 29th to November 1st. The project received support from the National Science Foundation and the Nakajima Foundation.

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