Navigation within the scope of a Networked Collaborative Virtual Environment (NCVE) using an articulated body representation is more complex then just moving the viewpoint based on user input. In such context, navigation englobes problems such as mapping of user's actions on the embodiment and body constraints in addition to the usual ones such as universal support for different devices and global motion constraints. We take a broader look at the problems, clasify them and present a solution for navigation in NCVEs. Introduction In its basic form, navigation is a fairly simple problem: using some hardware device, ranging from a mouse to a data glove to all sorts of alternative devices, the user "flies" or "walks" through the environment. We consider the problem within the scope of Collaborative Virtual Environments using animated Virtual Humans as embodiments for users and autonomous actors. The notion of navigation is first extended to include basic manipulation of objects picking up, carrying, dropping, the basic tasks one would want to perform in a virtual environment. Further, the problem is extended to the mapping of user's actions to the movement of his/her virtual body. We also analyze the problem of implementing constraints on navigation. Finally, support should be possible, and straightforward, for a wide variety of hardware devices that might be used for navigation. Within the framework of our Virtual Life Network (VLNET) system, we present a versatile navigation interface that covers the above problems, while at the same time allowing easy development of support for various devices and navigation paradigms. In the next section we analyze the problems involved with navigation in the context of a Collaborative Virtual Environment with Virtual Humans used for user representation. After that we briefly describe the VLNET system in order to put into context the following section which discusses the solutions for navigation in VLNET. Finally we present conclusions and ideas for future work. Navigation in Collaborative Virtual Environments Basic navigation involves using some input device to control walk-through or fly-through motion. In the context of Collaborative Virtual Environments [Barrus96, Carlsson93, Macedonia94, Ohya95, Singh95, Capin97, Pandzic97], this notion is vastly extended, especially when they involve human-like embodiments for the users. In such context, navigation involves (at least) the following problems:
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