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authors Bakker, N.H.
year 2001
title Spatial Orientation in Virtual Environments
source Delft University of Technology
summary Recently, a growing interest can be detected in the application of Virtual Environment (VE) technology as an operator interface. VEs are three-dimensional computer-generated images that can be shown on a conventional monitor, on a large screen display, or on a head-mounted display. In order to use these three-dimensional interfaces for finding and retrieving information, the user must be able to spatially orient themselves. Different types of VE technology are available for navigating in these VEs, and different types of navigation can be enabled. A choice has to be made between the different options to enable good spatial orientation of the user. There are two main types of VE interfaces: an immersive interface that provides rich sensory feedback to the user when moving around in the VE, and a non-immersive interface that provides only visual feedback to the user when moving around in the VE. Furthermore, navigation through the VE can either be continuous providing fluent motion, or can be discontinuous which means that the viewpoint is displaced instantaneously over a large distance. To provide insight into the possible effects of these options a series of nine experiments was carried out. In the experiments the quality of spatial orientation behaviour of test subjects is measured while using the different types of interface and the different types of navigation. The results of the experiments indicate that immersive navigation improves the perception of displacement through the VE, which in turn aids the acquisition of spatial knowledge. However, as soon as the spatial layout of the VE is learned the two types of navigation interface do not lead to differences in spatial orientation performance. A discontinuous displacement leads to temporary disorientation, which will hinder the acquisition of spatial knowledge. The type of discontinuous displacements has an effect on the time needed for anticipation. The disorienting effects of a discontinuous displacement can be compensated for by enabling cognitive anticipation to the destination of the displacement. These results suggest that immersive navigation might only be beneficial for application domains in which new spatial layouts have to be learned every time or in domains where the primary users are novices. For instance, in training firemen to teach them the layout of new buildings with VE, or in using architectural walkthroughs in VE to show new building designs to potential buyers. Discontinuous movement should not be allowed when exploring a new environment. Once the environment is learned and if fast displacement is essential then discontinuous displacement should be preferred. In this case, the interface designer must make sure that information is provided about the destination of a discontinuous displacement.
series thesis:PhD
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