About this Research Topic
Even after decades of development, academics and industry professionals generally agree that a key issue still preventing massive adoption of immersive technologies is the difficulty in easily authoring customized experiences. Not only is it necessary to have technical knowledge to create innovative scenarios, but technical teams also face challenges when a lack of low-level and high-level reusable components prevent finding optimal solutions for a new issue without spending resources on others. Additionally, many new platforms and hardware devices have emerged, particularly in the last few years, meaning there is a need for the new development of standard toolkits to support them all. In addition, the idea of a mixed reality (MR) continuum which originally included visual and haptic interfaces has stretched to other fields (with new terms coined, such as, ‘ubiquitous augmented reality’ (UAR), eXtended Reality (XR) and “ambient computing”) and so experiences include the integration of ever increasing new technologies like outdoor sensors and facial recognition.
Effective authoring tools not only require solutions in the algorithmic area such as sensor pose calibration; another important research focus is the design and human/computer interaction (HCI) elements for VR/AR creation environments. Some rely on well-known WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointing Device) paradigms as the foundation to building new conceptual models and workflows specific to VR/AR, while others explore tangible user interfaces or visual programming models, all with varying degrees of ease of use and complexity of results. And while studies have found that direct 3D manipulation is a more natural way of constructing virtual scenes (leading to researchers coming up with the term “immersive authoring” in the early ‘00s), there are still few AR/VR creation toolkits
achieved through sandboxing.
Many of the very early VR/AR experiences were put together with specific C/C++ libraries and frameworks that communicated via public APIs. VR/AR development became more straightforward with the subsequent evolution starting in the 90’s of both commercial and opensource extensible 3D engines with IDEs. Machine learning had a significant resurge in the last few years, leading to new advances in utilizing it for authoring, e.g. unsupervised learning to generate behaviors in virtual humans and thus reducing time and efforts required to author them. Most VR/AR research and development (R&D) today is done via a handful of dominant game engines, but points illustrated in previous paragraphs
indicate that the need for better technical and non-technical authoring tools still exists. In revisiting this topic through new analysis, the research community will accelerate mainstream adoption of immersive technologies as well the use of VR/AR as a medium in other types of research.
We therefore welcome submissions of Original Research and Reviews on the following (but not limited to) topics:
- Toolkits, frameworks and APIs for VR/AR.
- Machine learning for generating virtual content.
- Domain-specific VR/AR content frameworks.
- User experience (UX) design for creating VR/AR experiences.
- Perception and other cognitive considerations when authoring immersive content.
- Meta-analysis, trends, issues or state-of-the-art practices in VR/AR authoring tools.
- Conceptual models and software architectures for general or domain-specific VR/AR authoring systems.
Keywords: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Authoring Tools, Algorithmic, Machine Learning
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.