Date of Award

12-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Human Centered Computing

Committee Member

Dr. Sabarish V. Babu, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Larry F. Hodges

Committee Member

Dr. Sophie Joerg

Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Duchowski

Abstract

Virtual reality training applications are becoming more widespread as hardware costs for head-mounted displays (HMDs) and tracking technology decrease, enabling a wide variety of interaction techniques beyond the mouse and keyboard. Advancements in VR hardware yield higher levels of interaction fidelity or the objective degree of exactness with which real-world interactions can be reproduced in an interactive system. Despite the growing use of virtual reality simulations for training, few prior investigations have examined the constituent components of fidelity and how they affect performance and learning in the context of a real-world skills training applications. With tracking and HMD technology reaching a wider audience, it is important to empirically evaluate the benefits and downsides associated with utilizing such technology. Using our scaffolded virtual metrology training simulation as a testbed for exploring issues related to interaction fidelity, we have created a bimanual interaction metaphor that allows users to select and manipulate objects with 6 degrees-of-freedom using both hands simultaneously. The simulation guides the user step-by-step on the process of taking precise measurements using calipers and micrometers. Our initial work examined the effects of simplifying interaction by constraining the number of degrees-of-freedom on measures including user performance, cognitive and psychomotor learning outcomes, presence, and perceived workload. Results indicate that the training application was beneficial in teaching basic metrology concepts and simplifying the interaction metaphor resulted in similar user performance in most metrics. Our following experiment examined the effects of presentation method including a HMD with co-located end-effectors compared to a large-screen, immersive display with dislocated end-effectors on user performance and learning outcomes. In addition, physics fidelity was examined by either enabling or disabling gravity to determine usability improvements. Results indicate that the HMD condition was preferable to the immersive display in nearly all metrics while the no-gravity condition resulted in users adopting strategies that were not advantageous for task performance. Combined results from each study were used to create a set of general guidelines for user interface developers in highly immersive virtual environments.

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