A virtual reality head mounted display for underwater training and recreational purpose

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This thesis introduces an interactive underwater virtual reality headset as an engaging and convenient tool for educational and recreational purpose. Recreational sea diving and other related underwater activities are common exhilarating experiences for many people. However, it is dangerous, costly and time-consuming for novices to learn. Virtual Reality presents a possible approach to this problem. Most of the consumer level virtual reality headsets can only be employed under dry conditions. Through a detailed literature review of virtual reality (VR) research field, a small gap that has not been filled which refers to the use of VR in wet or underwater scenarios. In order to fill the identified gap, a head mounted display prototype called UnderwaterVR was designed and implemented. The prototype is a safe and low-cost alternative for novices to learn diving in a controlled swimming pool environment, which at the same time serves as a novel entertainment platform to experience interactive underwater games. The proposed prototype is a cable-free, mask-like, waterproof VR goggles. In the virtual world, participants behave autonomously and being able to interact with the environment continuously. To evaluate the prototype, an autoethnographic study was conducted. The prototype was reported to be engaging and that, interestingly, there was less cybersickness in the prototype than in a normal VR setup out of water. A hypothesis is presented to interpret the reason why there was less cybersickness. This thesis presented a low cost but efficient way for making a waterproof head mounted display via 3D printing. The failures and redesigns that we had during the development contribute to the further research. Another contribution we have made in this thesis is to explore the underwater interactivity for VR/AR.
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