Navigational Search in VR: Do Reference Frames Help?

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Would the rec­tan­gu­lar ref­er­ence frame of a CAVE help to reduce dis­ori­en­ta­tion and improve nav­i­ga­tion per­for­mance in VR? Here, we show that simply pro­vid­ing the rec­tan­gu­lar ref­er­ence frame of a room (as a simple wire­frame cuboid), but not a CAVE improved nav­i­ga­tional search performance.  

Despite recent advances in vir­tual real­ity, loco­mo­tion in a vir­tual envi­ron­ment is still restricted because of spa­tial dis­ori­en­ta­tion. Previous research has shown the ben­e­fits of ref­er­ence frames in main­tain­ing spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion. Here, we pro­pose using a visu­ally sim­u­lated ref­er­ence frame in vir­tual real­ity to pro­vide users with a better sense of direc­tion in landmark-free vir­tual envi­ron­ments. Visually over­laid rec­tan­gu­lar frames sim­u­late dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of frames of ref­er­ence. We inves­ti­gated how two dif­fer­ent types of visu­ally sim­u­lated ref­er­ence frames might ben­e­fit in a nav­i­ga­tional search task through a mixed-method study. Results showed that the pres­ence of a ref­er­ence frame sig­nif­i­cantly affects par­tic­i­pants’ per­for­mance in a nav­i­ga­tional search task. Though the ego­cen­tric frame of ref­er­ence (sim­u­lated CAVE) that trans­lates with the observer did not sig­nif­i­cantly help, an allo­cen­tric frame of ref­er­ence (a sim­u­lated sta­tion­ary room) sig­nif­i­cantly improved user per­for­mance both in nav­i­ga­tional search time and over­all travel dis­tance. Our study sug­gests that adding a vari­a­tion of the ref­er­ence frame to vir­tual real­ity appli­ca­tions might be a cost-effective solu­tion to enable more effec­tive loco­mo­tion in vir­tual reality.

Nguyen, T., Riecke, B. E., & Stuerzlinger, W. (2017). Moving in a Box: Improving Spatial Orientation in Virtual Reality using Simulated Reference Frames. Presented at the IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces 3DUI.
Nguyen, T., Riecke, B. E., & Stuerzlinger, W. (2017). Moving in a Box: Improving Spatial Orientation in Virtual Reality using Simulated Reference Frames. Presented at the IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces 3DUI

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Nguyen, T., Riecke, B. E., & Stuerzlinger, W. (2017). Moving in a Box: Improving Spatial Orientation in Virtual Reality using Simulated Reference Frames. Presented at the IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces 3DUI. (Download)
Riecke, B., Bodenheimer, B., McNamara, T., Williams, B., Peng, P., & Feuereissen, D. (2010). Do We Need to Walk for Effective Virtual Reality Navigation? Physical Rotations Alone May Suffice. In C. Hölscher, T. Shipley, M. Olivetti Belardinelli, J. Bateman, & N. Newcombe (Eds.), Spatial Cognition VII (Vol. 6222, pp. 234–247). Springer Berlin / Heidelberg. Retrieved from doi: 10.1007/978–3-642–14749-4_21