Improving distance perception in virtual reality

Siegel, Zachary
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Virtual reality (VR) is a useful tool for researchers and instructors alike. VR allows for the development of scenarios which would be either too dangerous or too costly to create in the real world such as distracting a driver in a virtual vehicle. Unfortunately, distances tend to be underperceived within VR, and consequently, the validity of any training or research performed within a virtual environment could be called into question. In an effort to account for underperception, this project sought to establish an interaction task as both environment and task neutral that could be applied to the beginning of any virtual training or research task to correct underperception.

Experiment 1 found that improvements in distance perception from an interaction task could likely be transferred from one environment to another but that there might be issues with removing distance cues from later environments.

Experiment 2 found that the presence of walls drove the effect in experiment 1. Results also indicated that interacting with an environment likely encourages participants to rely on the given distance cues and therefore cause a decrement in performance when these cues are later removed.

Experiment 3 gave evidence for the presence of both environment rescaling and behavioral recalibration as a result of interacting with a virtual environment. It also gave support for a more general rescaling that can improve performance at distances beyond those used for interaction.

Psychology, Human Computer Interaction, Distance perception, Virtual reality