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Russell L. Woods, Aaron J. Mandel, James Barabas, Robert B. Goldstein, Eli Peli; Making virtual reality “more real” and the perception of potential collisions. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):814. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/4.8.814.
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Making the experience in virtual reality closer to the “real world” experience (e.g. actually walking, rather than standing or sitting, in a walking simulator) may affect task performance. Improved experience of “presence” might make performance in the virtual reality similar to real-world performance, whereas poor presence or an incorrect rendition might impair performance. We measured perception of a potential collision with stationary obstacles using four experimental situations to compare: standing or walking; walking with or without subject speed control; and correct and incorrect viewpoint. Subjects stood or walked on a treadmill 75cm in front of a 95-degree-wide screen that displayed a “shopping mall” corridor with textured floor and shop fronts. Adult-man-size obstacles appeared for 1 second and the subject indicated whether they would collide if they continued on the same path. Data for 14 subjects were analyzed using a signal detection approach that gives the subject's perceived size and decision quality. When standing, subjects had a slightly smaller perceived size (p=0.02) and made slightly better decisions (p=0.03) than when walking. The incorrect viewpoint reduced the quality of decisions, but only slightly (p=0.01). Walking with and without subject speed control provided equivalent performance. Thus, walking in our walking simulator did not improve task performance. Our with-subject-speed-control walking condition required that the subject self-propel the treadmill (i.e. not motorized), which might reduce task performance compared to a feedback-controlled motorized system. An incorrect viewpoint (rendition) did reduce task performance, though performance was surprisingly good. Other issues that might affect the experience of presence, including head-tracking and binocular view (stereo cue of flat screen), are under investigation.
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