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Transitional Environments Enhance Distance Perception in Immersive Virtual Reality Systems

, , , , , and . Symposium on Applied Perception in Graphics and Visualization, page 19--26. ACM Press, (2009)

Abstract

Several experiments have provided evidence that ego-centric distances are perceived as compressed in immersive virtual environments relative to the real world. The principal factors responsible for this phenomenon have remained largely unknown. However, recent experiments suggest that when the virtual environment (VE) is an exact replica of a user's real physical surroundings, the person's distance perception improves. Furthermore, it has been shown that when users start their virtual reality (VR) experience in such a virtual replica and then gradually transition to a different VE, their sense of presence in the actual virtual world increases significantly. In this case the virtual replica serves as a transitional environment between the real and virtual world. In this paper we examine whether a person's distance estimation skills can be transferred from a transitional environment to a different VE. We have conducted blind walking experiments to analyze if starting the VR experience in a transitional environment can improve a person's ability to estimate distances in an immersive VR system. We found that users significantly improve their distance estimation skills when they enter the virtual world via a transitional environment.

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