August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
The Effects of Environmental Structure and Texture on Perceived Travel Distance
Author Affiliations
  • Ambika Bansal
    Centre for Vision Research, York University
  • Meaghan McManus
    Justus-Liebig University Giessen
  • Katja Fiehler
    Justus-Liebig University Giessen
  • Laurence R. Harris
    Centre for Vision Research, York University
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 5075. doi:
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      Ambika Bansal, Meaghan McManus, Katja Fiehler, Laurence R. Harris; The Effects of Environmental Structure and Texture on Perceived Travel Distance. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):5075.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Although virtual reality (VR) and visually induced self-motion have been widely used to investigate the perception of travel distance, the characteristics of these virtual environments varies greatly between studies. Previous research from our lab has found that when visually moving through a structured virtual corridor, people feel they have moved further compared to when moving through a less structured environment (e.g., McManus & Harris, 2021, Bury et al., 2020). There are countless parameters that contribute to the processing of optic flow (Seno et al., 2010; Bubka & Bonato, 2010), although these variables are rarely taken into consideration in peoples’ experimental design. Here we test how the presence and texture of a ground surface effects perceived travel distance in VR. We compared the effectiveness of a structured virtual corridor environment (similar to Redlick et al., 2001) with a less structured “starfield” environment (similar to McManus & Harris, 2021). We also varied whether or not a floor surface was present and if it had a texture. Participants saw a target that then disappeared, whereupon they experienced simulated motion at a constant velocity and indicated when they felt they had reached the target’s previous location. Data were analyzed in terms of gain (perceived travel distance/actual travel distance). Preliminary results (n=7) show significant differences between gains in the different environments. The structured virtual corridor evoked the sensation of moving further (higher gains) than the less structured starfield (lower gains). The type of floor surface did not effect gains, however there was an interaction between the environment type and the type of floor surface. This study will enable us to predict the effect of an environment’s structure on the perception of moving through it, which will have implications for the design of real and virtual environments where perceived motion is important.


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