Unsupported VRPN, No License Fees
The Virtual Reality Peripheral Network (VRPN) is public-domain software released by the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its development was supported by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Research Resources program. UNC's NCRR provides free, as-is, unsupported releases of this software. Instructions for downloading this software are found at www.cs.unc.edu/Research/vrpn/obtaining_vrpn.html. As described there, individuals and groups are welcome to download and use VRPN without license fees.
The only current documentation available about VRPN is found on the VRPN web page (a copy of which is included with each release; the latest version can be found at www.cs.unc.edu/Research/vrpn).
VRPN Support by Developers and Users
The developers of VRPN are continually improving the system and adding features to support their own research. These improvements are added into the public-domain version as new releases. Outside users of VRPN often add new features and devices, and are encouraged to feed these improvements back to UNC so that they can be included in future releases. This has two benefits: the group feeding back the techniques benefits because the changes are automatically carried to future releases and the entire community benefits from the addition of the new features.
If you are wondering whether a feature you want is coming soon, an email to firstname.lastname@example.org is often a fruitful way to determine this (if you use VRPN, you are encouraged to be on this mailing list, which is also used to announce new releases and other items of interest to VRPN users). Send email to email@example.com to be added to (or deleted from) this list. Questions to this list are answered as time permits.
VRPN Support through 3rdTech
For those wanting more reliable support, email to firstname.lastname@example.org lets you contact 3rdTech, who provides fee-for-services support for VRPN. The intent is to widen the usefulness of VRPN while recovering the costs of supporting projects other than UNC research. This support has taken several forms, including:
This support is normally provided on an hourly, fees-for-services basis. 3rdTech is happy to provide free estimates of the cost for particular enhancements and bug fixes. 3rdTech is also happy to discuss other, fixed-rate, fixed-duration support contracts if these are more appropriate for your needs (yearly or semester-long support contracts, for example).
The enhancements provided by 3rdTech are wrapped immediately back into the public-domain versions and released for general use. The feature enhancements in versions 4.07-5.00 and 05.02 of VRPN were enabled in whole or large part by industrial support from the Walt Disney VR Studios. Versions 05.01-05.02 were supported by Schlumberger Cambridge Research. This allows the entire community to benefit from the support, while still allowing the client to get features they need in a timely manner. 3rdTech is happy to list the names of supporting individuals or groups, but in order to preserve privacy we will not do so unless you request it.