Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Babu, Sabarish V

Committee Member

Hodges , Larry F

Committee Member

Davis , Timothy A

Abstract

An experiment was conducted to examine the effects of immersion on a common spatial knowledge acquisition task in a virtual panoramic environment. A virtual panorama, such as Google Streetview, is an environment that is comprised of 3D (spherical) images taken at regular intervals in a real world setting. Participants navigated the National Mall area of Washington DC in Google Streetview panoramas using either a keyboard and mouse or a head-mounted display (HMD) with a head orientation tracker. In an exploration phase, participants were asked to navigate and observe landmarks. Then, in a testing phase, participants were asked to look in the direction of the perceived landmarks, their gaze direction was recorded. We measured the angular difference between participants' gaze direction and the landmark direction. We found no significant difference between the immersive and desktop conditions on participants' accuracy ofdirection to landmarks as well as no difference in their presence scores. We found that some participants in the HMD condition viewed the environment from an egocentric perspective, while the participants in the desktop condition tended to form cognitive maps to inform spatial orientation to landmarks. These findings suggest the visual cues in the virtual panoramic environment, such as street signs, buildings and trees, seem to have a stronger influence in both viewing conditions in determining direction to landmarks, than the egocentric cues such as first-person perspective and natural head-coupled motion

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