Google Research

CollaboVR: A Reconfigurable Framework for Creative Collaboration in Virtual Reality

2020 IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR), IEEE, pp. 11 (to appear)

Abstract

Writing or sketching on whiteboards is an essential part of collaborative discussions in business meetings, reading groups, design sessions, and interviews. However, prior arts in collaborative virtual reality (VR) systems have rarely explored the design space of multi-user layouts and interaction modes with virtual whiteboards. In this paper, we present CollaboVR, a reconfigurable framework for distributed and co-located multi-user communication in VR. Our system unleashes the creativity of VR users by sharing freehand drawings, converting 2D sketches into 3D models, and generating procedural animations in real time. To save the computational budgets for VR clients, we leverage a cloud architecture where the computational expensive applications (Chalktalk) are hosted directly on the servers and results are streamed to every client. We further devise two user layouts, side-by-side and face-to-face layouts to reduce visual clutter and compare interaction engagement. Users may also enable the projection mode in CollaboVR to mirror their private sketches at hands to the shared virtual whiteboards. We conduct two rounds of user study with 16 participants to evaluate CollaboVR. Our findings reveal that users appreciate the custom configurations and real-time animations in CollaboVR. Generally, face-to-face layout is preferred while the projection mode may yield less eye contacts. We will opensource CollaboVR to facilitate future research and development of natural user interface and real-time networking systems for VR collaborations.

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