© Alexei Sharov (copyright info)
Department of Entomology
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA


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A running cockroach; move its wings and legs!
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Welcome to the world of virtual insects!

If you like real insects, you would love virtual insects because you can see them big without a microscope. Virtual insects are clean and have no smell, they will not bite or sting you. And some times they look even better than real insects.

Besides learning insects, you will learn new computer technology which is called virtual reality. Virtual reality is a computer interface that maximizes our natural perception abilities. Static two-dimensional images are often deceiving; it may be hard to reconstruct scales and distances between objects. Thus, it is important to implement the third dimension and to bring depth to objects.

There are two major components of three-dimensional virtual reality:

  • Movement - our eye can easily reconstruct the third dimension if the object moves.
  • Stereoscopy - using separate images for the right and left eyes
Pre-determined movement is implemented using a movie or animated image. Arbitrary user-defined movement is implemented using the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) which is a standard language for describing interactive 3-D objects and worlds delivered across the Internet. VRML-images can be rotated and magnified interactively. Information on VRML is available in the VRML Repository. We have several stereoscopic images of insects that you can view using special stereoscopic shutter-glasses. At this point, stereoscopic software runs only on Windows-95 and Windows-98.
Best virtual reality implements both movement and stereoscopy. However, at this point you can view it only using special graphical computers (SGI). In the section about CAVE insects we describe one of the most sophisticated virtual environments, the CAVE, which runs on a SGI supercomputer.

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Alexei Sharov