Co-Presence in Shared Virtual Environment (SVE)
Design and Research in Virtual Reality
This research study explored Co-presence in SVE, a case study of a highway work zone construction. The research conducted in Louisiana State University (LSU) and the results are published on "International Conference on Construction and Real Estate Management" in 2019.
Project Overview
Given the high rate of motor vehicle fatalities in work zones in the U.S., this study proposes the use of a Virtual Reality (VR) as a tool for studying safety in construction work zones. Remarkably, with the recent technological advances, there is an opportunity to create rich and high quality Shared Virtual Environments (SVEs) in which users can actively interact with one another. 
This study reports on an experiment in that a virtual highway construction zone has been used as a platform for investigating the real-time interaction between two participants— a driver and a construction worker. The study aims at 1) investigating the impact of experiment design and technology on participants’ SVE experience; 2) suggesting a framework for designing SVEs with higher levels of presence and co-presence; 3) assessing the viability of SVE’s as a research tool in construction and safety domain.​​​​​​​
This research study was conducted and completed in 2018 and 2019 and I was a research assistant in the research team.
SVE Development and Tools
The SVE of this study was developed by using Unity, an open source video game creation software. The 3D model of the work zone was developed in AutoCAD and Photoshop was used to create the textures and its associated maps. The light-maps were created in 3Ds Max and then along with other components, were imported into the Unity platform. The game features, functions, and interactions were created using the Unity game engine. 
The flagger avatar is designed with a rigged skinned human body mesh. The skeleton is controlled by a wearable tracking vest with 16 sensors; each one assigned to the user’s body joints. The flagger is able to use two controllers attached to the tracking vest to move in the scene and also to so perform some interactions. A specific vehicle is designed and programmed in the Unity so that it’s specifications such as acceleration, handling and brake to be suitable for the co-presence application. The vehicle can be controlled by a driving wheel to simulate a real driving experience. A virtual reality headset, Oculus rift, was used for the experiment.

Participants and Procedure
Twenty-six volunteers (17 male and 9 females; age: 29.73 ± 4.99) from the LSU population signed up to participate in the experiment. 
The SVE of this study was comprised of two scenarios. Each scenario would represent a common critical event that would occur to a construction worker (flagger) and an approaching driver. This platform makes possible to accommodate the simulation of an avatar whose actions are controlled by a participant “A”, construction worker/flagger, while another participant performs the role of a driver “B”. Participant B sees the SVE from a desktop monitor, while participant A would be immersed in the SVE using the oculus rift HMD.

Participant A (Driver)

Participant B (Flagger)

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