Date of Award

6-2014

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Zoë Wood

Abstract

Recent growth in the commercial availability of consumer grade 3D user interface devices like the Microsoft Kinect and the Oculus Rift, coupled with the broad availability of high performance 3D graphics hardware, has put high quality 3D user interfaces firmly within the reach of consumer markets for the first time ever. However, these devices require custom integration with every application which wishes to use them, seriously limiting application support, and there is no established mechanism for multiple applications to use the same 3D interface hardware simultaneously. This thesis proposes that these problems can be solved in the same way that the same problems were solved for 2D interfaces: by abstracting the input hardware behind input primitives provided by the windowing system and compositing the output of applications within the windowing system before displaying it. To demonstrate the feasibility of this approach this thesis also presents a novel Wayland compositor which allows clients to create 3D interface contexts within a 3D interface space in the same way that traditional windowing systems allow applications to create 2D interface contexts (windows) within a 2D interface space (the desktop), as well as allowing unmodified 2D Wayland clients to window into the same 3D interface space and receive standard 2D input events. This implementation demonstrates the ability of consumer 3D interface hardware to support a 3D windowing system, the ability of this 3D windowing system to support applications with compelling 3D interfaces, the ability of this style of windowing system to be built on top of existing hardware accelerated graphics and windowing infrastructure, and the ability of such a windowing system to support unmodified 2D interface applications windowing into the same 3D windowing space as the 3D interface applications. This means that application developers could create compelling 3D interfaces with no knowledge of the hardware that supports them, that new hardware could be introduced without needing to integrate it with individual applications, and that users could mix whatever 2D and 3D applications they wish in an immersive 3D interface space regardless of the details of the underlying hardware.

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