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CSE 190: Virtual Reality Technology

Course Description:

Virtual reality (VR) has been capturing people’s imagination for decades, but only recently has it been possible to build VR devices inexpensive enough for the consumer market. This course aims to explain how VR technology works and the students are going to do programming projects to better understand potential and limitations of today’s VR hardware.

Course Schedule

Click here for the course schedule.

It lists lecture dates, homework due dates, and recommended reading.


The preliminary course structure looks like this:

  1. An overview of the state-of-the-art VR technologies and research trends will be given.
  2. The fundamental physics of 3D displays will be covered, including the major 3D depth cues.
  3. The most common display types such as LCDs and OLEDs will be introduced, in terms of display materials, device structures, working principles and research trends.
  4. We will look at various ways to create stereographics images.
  5. Several quasi-true 3D displays, including holography, volumetric 3D displays and light field displays will be introduced.
  6. Immersive VR systems will be discussed, including HMD-based systems. This part of the course will include a discussion of smart phone based HMDs as well as high end computer driven HMDs.
  7. Challenges with today’s HMD-based VR will be discussed and software driver components will be explained and implemented in C++ with OpenGL.


  • CSE167 (Introduction to Computer Graphics) or equivalent


  • Instructor: Dr. Jürgen Schulze
  • Instructor's office hour: Thursdays 3:30-4:30pm, Atkinson Hall, Room 2125
  • Number of Units: 4
  • Section ID: 903778
  • Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00pm-3:20pm at PCYNH 122
  • Homework Discussion: Tuesdays 3:30pm-4:30pm at CSB 002 (starting April 11)
  • First lecture: Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
  • Homework: 4 programming assignments
  • 1 written in-class midterm exam
  • 1 VR app and video presentation in-class
  • Piazza page: https://piazza.com/class/j0wz2kpwjv7448
  • Designated computer lab: CSE 210 (VR Lab)
  • TA: Sainan Liu; see Piazza for office hours
  • Tutor: Timothy Wang; see Piazza for office hours


Project 1 (teams of 2) 15%
Project 2 (teams of 2) 15%
Project 3 (teams of 2) 15%
Final Project (teams of 2) 25%
Midterm (individual) 25%
VR Content Presentation (individual) 5%

You will find your homework and other scores on TritonEd. Please verify a few days after after every due date that your score has been recorded correctly and inform your grader if you find an error.

There will be no assignment or indication of letter grades corresponding to scores on the individual exams and homework projects. The final grade depends on a weighted average of all the scores. The following grading key will be used:

Final Score Letter Grade
100+ A+
95+ A
90+ A-
85+ B+
80+ B
75+ B-
70+ C+
65+ C
60+ C-

For undergraduate students with the P/NP option: A pass (P) grade will be given for an average score of 60 or higher.

For graduate students with the S/U option: A satisfactory (S) grade will be given for an average score of 75 or higher.

Homework Assignments

Each project can be done in teams of two. Solo work is permitted but discouraged because the workload will be designed for two people. There are the same expectations on the project outcomes whether they are done in teams or individually.

All projects must be demonstrated to the course staff on or before the due date. There will be a dedicated grading session on the due dates at 2pm in CSE 210.

Late submissions will NOT be accepted.

Optional Textbooks

You won't need to buy a textbook for this course because the lecture slides will be made available to you. However, if you want more background information, we recommend the following books:

Vrbook-200p.jpg The VR Book by Jason Jerald, 550 pages, Morgan & Claypool Publishers, October 16, 2015, ISBN-10: 1970001127, ISBN-13: 978-1970001129
Rift-200p.jpg Oculus Rift in Action by Alex Benton, Bradley Austin Davis and Karen Bryla, 440 pages, Manning Publications, September 3, 2015, ISBN-13: 978-1617292194, ISBN-10: 1617292192
Vr-200p.jpg Virtual Reality by Steven M. LaValle. To be published by Cambridge University Press. Download PDF

Students with Disabilities

If you have a documented disability, please bring your documentation to me as soon as possible so that I can make suitable accommodations for you. If you believe that you have a disability and desire accommodation, please register with the Office for Students with Disabilities.