Computer Science

ECS 280 Principles of Virtual Reality


Lecture: 3 hours

Discussion: 1 hour

Prerequisite: Course ECS 175

Grading: Letter; group project (75%); exams (25%)

Catalog Description:
Fundamentals of Virtual Reality (VR) technology, underlying principles, and its potential and limits for useful application; developing a complete virtual reality application. Offered in alternate years.


  1. Understand the technologies, underlying principles
  2. Learn about its potential and limitations of virtual reality
  3. Learn about the criteria for useful applications
  4. Understand the process of creating virtual environments
  5. Gain practical skills by using existing tools
  6. Develop a complete virtual reality application through group projects

Expanded Course Descriptions:

  1. Introduction
  2. Enabling Technologies of virtual reality
  3. Definition and Characteristics of virtual reality
  4. Applications
  5. Human Factors and Human Perception
  6. Computer Graphics Principles for virtual reality
  7. Geometric Modeling Principles for virtual reality
  8. Modeling of Virtual Environments
  9. Existing Tools
  10. Special Topics

As to this lack of textbooks in this area, we will use a combination of lecture and laboratory notes.

Interdisciplinary group projects are a major part of this course. Lectures and lab sessions will prepare the class for the development of virtual reality applications in the particular areas of interest. Groups of 3 to 5 students will select a topic of their choice and submit a project proposal for evaluation and approval by the teaching staff. The group will then develop a complete virtual reality application, document the project on the World Wide Web, and demonstrate.

Engineering Design Statement:
The individual student taking this class will design and document components of a virtual-reality interface system. The specific component of the system to be designed is developed from the current research literature in computer graphics, visualization, geometric modeling and virtual reality. The student will learn how to enhance and optimize existing algorithms, and how to integrate them into a specific application area in Virtual Reality.

ABET Category:
Engineering Science: 2 units
Engineering Design: 2 units

Instructors: K. Joy, O. Staadt

Prepared by: K. Joy (September, 2002)

Overlap Statement:
Where as much of the fundamental material for this course is similar to that of courses ECS 175, 177, 275, and 277, the core material is unique to this course. This is the only course that discusses interface issues and display issues in a synthetic environment. It is the only course that discusses computer graphics and visualization techniques to display complex images into stereo environment.