Whole-body Movement in Virtual Reality: Creating Better Experiences through Walking and Maneuvering

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that can immerse a user in a virtual world to the point where they feel like they are really there and the things they perceive are really happening. Key to this experience is the ability to move around and interact with the virtual world. In real life, everyday movements like walking or maneuvering are easy, ubiquitous, and often enjoyable. However, using such movements in virtual reality is tricky, restrictive, and frustrating. Designing good movement experiences in virtual re- ality is not trivial: It is not clear how we can study virtual experiences, how movement affects the experience, and what quality aspects are important.
This thesis presents five research papers addressing this problem by demonstrating new and improved ways to apply methods to study virtual reality experiences. This work focuses on walking and maneuvering as whole-body movement: It investigates how movement affects various essential quality characteristics of virtual reality experiences, from sense of presence to VR sickness.
“Towards a Bedder Future” studies virtual reality experiences while lying down using a think-aloud protocol and semi-structured interviews. The paper highlights the crucial role of maneuvering in virtual experiences and proposes lying-down VR as a promising new application area.
“How Your Physical Environment Affects Spatial Presence” presents two theory-driven lab experiments where users walk around boundaries and obstacles. The paper uses Bayesian modeling to explain how knowledge of, and collisions with, the real world can negatively affect spatial presence in the virtual world.
“Sicknificant Steps” is a systematic review and meta-analysis of VR sickness in walking- based locomotion techniques. The paper shows how different types of walking tech- niques are affected by VR sickness and discusses problems with VR sickness assessment.
“Step On It” leverages human-in-the-loop Bayesian optimization to design novel trans- fer functions for fast walking in VR. After applying the method in a user study, semi- structured interviews produced data on what qualities of walking matter to users.
“Doorways Do Not Always Cause Forgetting” investigates a phenomenon where crossing environmental boundaries can cause forgetting. Two lab experiments with a conceptual replication showed no evidence of adverse memory effects in VR due to variation in locomotion technique or boundary visualization.
In conclusion, the thesis provides methods to study how whole-body movement affects the virtual experience. By applying these methods, we gain a more complete and de- tailed understanding of the quality aspects of virtual reality experiences. These contri- butions enable us, as researchers and designers, to create better virtual experiences for the future.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
Number of pages211
Publication statusPublished - 2024

ID: 387263705