Marshall Agnew (03/17/04)
Our experience in the cave was more interesting to me than I had expected, though it would have been nice to spend some individual time with the system. I see potential for such interactive maps in the future but I think they need to be made more idiot proof if they are to be useful. I understand that this is by no means a finished product and that it will take a lot more work, but I think that the computer science department would do well to work with some non-computer oriented people to make the system more universally applicable.
Though it didn't seem terribly compelling at first because of low resolution and a strange set-up, my experience in the cave keep coming back to me and I continue to think of ways that would improve the idea. I'm not sure if this system would be very useful to scientists the way it stands, it seems to be more about getting a feeling of the landscape than actually doing any real science. As it is it seems like it could more easily be used as a great education tool for introducing people to the geography of Mars.
I think for the system to be more useful for scientists higher resolution would have to be added. It would also be very useful to add a feature that would allow someone exploring mars to call up other information about geographical features.
Though the most obvious ways of improving the cave would be to make it higher resolution and to make it easy to use, there are some other things that I think would make it more compelling overall. Most importantly I think the control system would need to be improved. Though the directionally sensitive aspect of it is kind of neat, I don't think its necessary and might be just confusing. The controllers them selves are also very odd. I wonder if I wouldn't be better to use something that is more familiar to people like a video game controller. It might even be practical to use a real video game controller.
It was very neat to be able to fly through canyons on mars, but since the best part of the system is the feeling it gives you of being in the landscape, it may even be useful to make a gravity feature that could be turned on and off allowing one to walk around on the surface.
We have grown up playing video games that create very compelling fantasy landscapes and situations, I think it would be interesting to apply the same kind of technology to this project and make the mars experience even more realistic. You could even make a home version of it that could be put on to a computer or video game console and allow people to explore mars at home.
The Cave got me excited about the possibilities of virtual reality, though I would love to see it more developed. Though it was only a rough approximation of being on mars I feel like it also gave me a better idea of what the geography is like. So I guess it accomplished what it was meant for. If it can make me feel that way even in its early stages, I am excited to see what it could become.