Niklas Elmqvist, Ph.D.

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Synopsis: Using an interactive 3D force field for object displacement to facilitate target separation and distractor removal.


  • (2008-10-27) BalloonProbe paper invited to IJVR! - The journal version of this paper was selected as the Best Paper of 2007 by the International Journal of Virtual Reality !
  • (2006-12-25) BalloonProbe paper invited to IJVR! - Our BalloonProbe paper at VRST was invited to be published in an extended version in a special issue of the the International Journal of Virtual Reality . It will be published in March 2007.


  • Start date: June, 2005
  • End date: July, 2007
  • Parent project: occmgt

In this project, we aim to reduce occlusion by way of an interactive 3D space distortion approach. The user is given an inflatable force field which can be used to either remove distractors that get in the way, or to separate targets that occlude each other. The force field is typically in the shape of a spherical balloon (hence the name "BalloonProbe"), but other shapes may be suitable for special tasks.

We have performed controlled user experiments in both immersive and desktop-based VR to study the usefulness of the technique in different settings as well as in relation to 3D flying and 3D fisheye techniques. Results indicate that standard 3D flying and walking is still best for quick-and-dirty exploration of a 3D world, but that spherical BalloonProbe has the best trade-off between speed and accuracy for user tasks requiring better precision.



  • N. Elmqvist, M. Tudoreanu. Occlusion Management in Immersive and Desktop 3D Virtual Environments: Theory and Evaluation. International Journal of Virtual Reality, 6(2):21-32, 2007. (Best paper award) [PDF] [YouTube] [BibTeX] [Website]
  • N. Elmqvist, M. Tudoreanu. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Occlusion Reduction Techniques for 3D Virtual Environments. In Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology, pp. 9-18, 2006. [PDF] [YouTube] [BibTeX] [Website]
  • N. Elmqvist. BalloonProbe: Reducing Occlusion in 3D using Interactive Space Distortion. In Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology, pp. 134-137, 2005. [PDF] [YouTube] [BibTeX] [Website]


Spherical BalloonProbe Spherical BalloonProbe Wedge BalloonProbe Wedge BalloonProbe