SBIR Phase I:Plug and Play Characters for 3D Virtual Environments

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1014407
Agency Tracking Number: 1014407
Amount: $150,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: IC
Solicitation Number: NSF 09-609
Small Business Information
146 Montelena Ct., Mountain View, CA, 94040
DUNS: 832775675
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Okan Arikan
 (650) 417-5020
Business Contact
 Okan Arikan
Title: PhD
Phone: (650) 417-5020
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will evaluate the feasibility of creating reusable, self-encapsulated animated characters for use in 3D virtual environments, such as those found in training simulations, video games, virtual worlds, and other 3D applications. Animated characters are a major component of many virtual environments, but are difficult to develop. Characters move and interact with each other in complex ways, and must autonomously make rational decisions. Unnatural movement or behavior can destroy a virtual environment's believability. This project aims to create a reusable character animation component that can be integrated into different virtual environments using a high-level interface to communicate with the host application. The innovation behind this high-level interface is a novel technique that unifies control demands, environmental constraints, environmental interactions, and inter-character interactions into a single framework. The technique uses a differential representation of animation to enforce constraints while retaining small-scale details that are key to realism. Virtual environments are expensive to build. Since nearly half of the cost of a virtual environment is spent on artwork and engineering, it makes sense to reuse as much as possible. Reuse could dramatically lower costs. In practice though, very little is reusable. Current character animation middleware products (i.e., third-party character animation software components) are not truly application-independent. They are often intimately tied to the host application's logic so that they can support application-specific features. This project will evaluate the commercial feasibility of offering application-independent, reusable character animation middleware as part of a complete virtual character platform. This platform will offer end-consumers customizable 3D avatars that can be used in any application that supports the proposed interface. If adopted, reusable character assets and application-independent middleware will reduce development time and cost, stimulating the creation of new applications for training, entertainment, communication, and education.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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