Perception and Mental Rotation of 3D-Freeform Surfaces in an Immersive Projection System

  • Andrea Gaggioli
  • Ralf Breining
Conference paper
Part of the Eurographics book series (EUROGRAPH)


This paper reports on three experiments performed to examine the effects of different visualization techniques of 3D computer-generated freeform surfaces on subjects’ perceptual and cognitive performance while doing CAD-related activities in an immersive VR system. Experimental perceptual and cognitive tasks included depth size estimation of a single 3D object (exp. 1), estimation of depth differences between two 3D objects (exp. 2) and mental rotation of 3D objects (exp. 3). Dependent variables were accuracy (exp. 1, 2 and 3) and response time (exp. 3). The visualization techniques we investigated were presence versus absence of binocular disparity, four different types of graphic image (wireframe, flat shading, Gouraud shading and Gouraud shading with surface normals) and two levels of shape complexity.

Results showed a positive effect of binocular disparity on perceptual performance (esp. 1), in particular when concave 3D shapes were used as stimuli (esp. 2), but a limited positive effect of stereopsis on mental rotation. Furthermore, results indicated that subjects were faster in mentally rotating 3D shapes rendered with more realistic techniques, whereas perceptual estimates were found more accurate and easier when observers were presented with less realistic rendered surfaces (exp. 1, 2).


Mental Rotation Stereo Vision Graphic Image Estimate Depth Binocular Disparity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Barfield, W., Sanford, J., Foley, J. (1988). The mental rotation and perceived realism of computer-generated three-dimensional images. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 29, p. 669–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brown, M.E., Gallimore, J.J. (1995). Visualization of Three-Dimensional Structure During Computer-Aided Design. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 7(1). p. 37–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dember, W.N., Warm, J.S. (1979). Psychology of perception (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Foley, J., Van Dam, A. (1982). Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Koenderink, J.J., Van Doom, A.J., Christou, C., Lappin, J.S. (1996). Shape constancy in pictorial relief. Perception, 25, p. 155–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Matlin, M.W., Foley, H.J. (1992). Sensation and Perception (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pepper, R. L., Patterson, R. (1986). Stereo TV improves operator performance under degraded visibility conditions. Optical Engineering, 20, p. 579–585.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sanford, J., Barfield, W., Foley, J. (1987). Empirical studies of interactive computer graphics: Perceptual and cognitive issues. In Proceedings of the Human Factors Society 31 st Annual Meetting Volume I, p. 519–523.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Shepard, R.N., Metzler, J. (1971). Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects. Science, 171, p. 701–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Todd, J.T., Mingolla, E. (1983). Perception of Surface Curvature and Direction of Illumination From Patterns of Shading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 9 (4), p. 583–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Yeh, Y.Y., and Silverstein, L.D. (1992). Spatial judgments and stereoscopic presentation of perspective displays. Human Factors, 34, p. 583–600.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Yuille, J.C., Steiger, J.H. (1982). Nonholistic processing in mental rotation: some suggestive evidence. Perception and Psychophysics, 31, p. 201–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Gaggioli
    • 1
  • Ralf Breining
    • 1
  1. 1.Competence Center Virtual RealityFraunhofer Institute for Industrial EngineeringStuttgartGermany

Personalised recommendations