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CSE 191: Virtual Reality Technology

Course Description

Virtual reality (VR) has been capturing people's imagination for decades, but it has been only recently that this technology became available for consumers. This seminar course aims to explain how VR technology works, and you are going to do programming projects to better understand potential and limitations of today's VR hardware and devices.

Quest2.png Oculus-quest-2-exploded.jpg
Oculus Quest 2 Oculus Quest 2 Interior

Computer Hardware Requirements

In order to be able to do the homework projects in this course you will need to have:

  • A Windows or Apple computer (desktop or laptop) with the ability to run Unity. You can use the Windows PCs in the VR lab.
  • A VR headset with two controllers. You can borrow an Oculus Quest 2 from the VR lab for the duration of the quarter.

Course Schedule

Click here for the course schedule.

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


In this course the following topics may be covered. We will discuss the final list of topics in class.

  1. Overview of the state-of-the-art VR technologies and research trends
  2. VR software development with Unity
  3. Fundamental physics of 3D displays
  4. 3D display types: LCD, OLED, volumetric, light field
  5. Immersive VR systems: Head Mounted Displays, CAVE, smart phone VR, etc.
  6. 3D tracking systems and controllers
  7. Rendering to Head Mounted Displays
  8. Counteracting motion sickness
  9. Spatial audio for VR
  10. Augmented reality devices
  11. Capturing and displaying panoramic 3D images and video


  • No formal prerequisites
  • CSE167 (Introduction to Computer Graphics) or equivalent recommended but not required


  • Instructor: Dr. Jürgen Schulze
  • Number of Units: 2
  • Section ID: 84652
  • Lectures: Tuesdays 11am-12:20pm in the VR lab, room B210 (EBU-3B) in-person
  • Office Hour: Mondays 7pm on Zoom at https://ucsd.zoom.us/j/93052169849
  • Discussion board on Piazza (access through Canvas)
  • Grade management: Canvas


Programming Project 30%
Weekly Reading 30%
Technology Presentation 20%
App Presentation 20%

Your grades will show up on Canvas. Please let your instructor know if you find an error.

The final grade depends on the weighted average of all your 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 grade of 60 or higher.

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

Programming Assignment

You can find the VR project here.

The assignment will be due at the end (Friday) of finals week.

The project is a solo project. You are allowed to discuss concepts and approaches with your fellow students, but each student needs to submit their own project and needs to have implemented all parts of it themselves.

To submit your project, make a video of your app showcasing all its features and upload it to Canvas by the due date.

Internet Resources

UCSD's VR Club TritonXR has some excellent resources to help you get started creating VR applications with Unity.

  • Workshop Slides: Take a look at the "Technical" folder for Unity-specific workshops. If you're interested, there are also non-technical design slides that are interesting for VR.
  • Unity Tutorial Guide This guide helps you navigate Unity's many offered tutorials.

EdX course 190x teaches VR with Unity on smartphones with lots of videos and hands-on tutorials. You can audit it free of charge.

Or you can view just the tutorial videos which walk you through the steps to create a VR app for your smartphone.

Run your Quest 2 without a Facebook account (requires an old Oculus account).

Useful information on quaternions


You will not need to buy a textbook for this course because the lecture slides will be made available to you, and the material from the lectures will be sufficient for the final exam. However, if you want more in-depth 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
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 email me 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.