Navigation in real and virtual environments: Judging orientation and distance in a large-scale landscape
Virtual environments (VE) provide an almost optimal setting for studying human navigation behaviour. The current study compares the ability of human subjects to judge the distance and orientation of places in a natural landscape and in its corresponding virtual 3D model. The results of the Euclidean distance judgements confirm that spatial knowledge acquired in VEs is less accurate than that acquired in the real world. However, distance judgements performed by subjects using a VRbicycle to actively move in the scene (active observer) were more accurate than those of subjects who were automatically driven through the landscape (passive observer). The accuracy of the orientation judgements was the same in both environments and independent of the use of the VRbicycle. The results suggest that the VRbicycle can facilitate the perception of spatial dimensions but that additional improvements of the man-machine interface of our VE are needed to improve the subjects’ sense of orientation.
KeywordsVirtual Environment Virtual World Simulation Environment Spatial Knowledge Active Observer
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