Human-Computer Interaction

Diegetic Stigmergic 3DUI



Insects have considerable more mass than humans on our planet. They have evolved far longer than us, too. Social insects are famous for achieving outstanding things by coordinating their work, e.g. building bridges, carrying large objects, or building large nests under ground or up in the trees. To this end, they communicate “stigmergically” which means that they might drop chemical cues along the way, mix them into their construction material or simply emit them from their bodies, they also change the built environment and create stigmeric cues, e.g. by adding mud pellets here or there, or by crafting honey combs etc. Long story short, they control themselves and others by enriching the environment with according instructional information.


In this work, you will build on a previously engineered 3DUI approach to control virtual, terrain-shaping swarms of pellet-dropping agents. The given 3DUI control, which works based on configurable beacons placed in 3D, will have to be iteratively improved for usage in VR, with performance measured agains previously devised test cases tailored towards various functional requirements of the UI, including defining target points, division of swarms and merging of subswarms, as well as their behavioural configuration (e.g. in terms of velocity, interaction behaviours concerning their neighbours etc). The developed set of test cases also needs a few revisions and certainly an extension to cover different and more complex challenges more systematically.

Based on this ground work on diegetic swarm guidance, you will take the next step and make the swarm agents themselves allow to place, remove and reconfigure instructional beacons as part of their behaviours. As a result you will be immersed in a self-organised, stigmeric swarm system that can autonomously perform tasks such as constructing architectural structures. At the same time, you will be able to override or retarget the swarm’s instructions. The list of tasks converges to a systematic exploration of what the swarm can achieve (you may build on the terrain-shaping swarms, if you want) and corresponding analyses in terms of interaction graphs that reveal exactly how the built artefacts emerged from the interplay of swarm(s) and user.

Contact Persons at the University Würzburg

Prof. Dr. Sebastian von Mammen (Primary Contact Person)
Games Engineering, Universität Würzburg

Samuel Truman, B.Sc.
Games Engineering, Universität Würzburg


[“Truman, S., Seitz, J., & von Mammen, S. (2021). Stigmergic, Diegetic Guidance of Swarm Construction. In International Workshop on Self-Organised Construction (SOCO), Proceedings of the ACSOS Conference. IEEE.”, “von Mammen, S., & Jacob, C. (2008, July). Evolutionary swarm design of architectural idea models. In Proceedings of the 10th annual conference on Genetic and evolutionary computation (pp. 143-150).”]

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