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Safe 3D Navigation

George Fitzmaurice, Justin Matejka, Igor Mordatch, Azam Khan, Gord Kurtenbach

ACM Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics

Safe 3D Navigation (4:37 min.)

Video title (x:xx min.)


Typical commercial 3D CAD tools provide modal tools such as pan, zoom, orbit, look, etc. to facilitate freeform navigation in a 3D scene. Mastering these navigation tools requires a significant amount of learning and even experienced computer users can find learning confusing and error-prone. To address this we have developed a concept called "Safe 3D Navigation" where we augment these modal tools with properties to reduce the occurance of confusing situations and improve the learning experience. In this paper we describe the major properties needed for safe navigation, the features we implemented to realize these properties, and usability tests on the effectiveness of these features. We conclude that indeed these properties do improve the learning experience for users that are new to 3D. Furthermore, many of the features we implemented for safe navigation are also very popular with experienced 3D users. As a result, these features have been integrated into six commercial 3D CAD applications and we recommend other application developers include these features to improve 3D navigation.

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While advances in computing have empowered users to design and interact with objects in virtual three-dimensional space, little effort has been made to improve or facilitate interaction with the viewpoint. Once we begin to consider this problem, we find that it effectively spans a huge problem domain with many special cases. It touches on many of the fundamental difficulties in 3D interaction: being inside an object vs. being outside, how close is the viewpoint to the object, what is the user looking at and/or is interested in, egocentric vs. exocentric thinking, parallel vs. perspective viewing projections, multiscale and level-of-detail issues, what kind of data is being examined (abstract, incomplete, photoreal, engineering, CAD, entertainment, medical, simulation, etc.), and what is the user task (authoring, inspecting, etc.). Additional technical issues include correct handling of the clipping planes and floating-point precision problems. To help understand and address some of these issues, we have an ongoing research program to improve the state-of-the-art in 3D navigation.

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