Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Computing

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Andrew Robb


VirtualReality(VR) is becoming more accessible and widely utilized in crucial disciplines like training, communication, healthcare, and education. One of the important parts of VR applications is walking through virtual environments. So, researchers have broadly studied various kinds of walking in VR as it can reduce sickness, improve the sense of presence, and enhance the general user experience. Due to the recent availability of consumer Head Mounted Displays (HMDs), people are using HMDs in all sorts of different locations. It underscores the need for locomotion methods that allow users to move through large Immersive Virtual Environments (IVEs) when occupying a small physical space or even seated. Although many aspects of locomotion in VR have received extensive research, very little work has considered how locomotive behaviors might change over time as users become more experienced in IVEs. As HMDs were rarely encountered outside of a lab before 2016, most locomotion research before this was likely conducted with VR novices who had no prior experience with the technology. However, as this is no longer the case, itis important to consider whether locomotive behaviors may evolve over time with user experience. This proposal specifically studies locomotive behaviors and effects that may adjust over time. For the first study, we conducted experiments measuring novice and experienced subjects’ gait parameters in VR and real environments. Prior research has established that users’ gait in virtual and real environments differs; however, little research has evaluated how users’ gait differs as users gain more experience with VR. We conducted experiments measuring novice and experienced subjects’ gait parameters in VR and real environments. Results showed that subjects’ performance in VR and Real World was more similar in the last trials than in the first trials; their walking dissimilarity in the start trials diminished by walking more trials. We found the trials a significant variable affecting the walking speed, step length, and trunk angle for both groups of users. While the main effect of expertise was not observed, an interaction effect between expertise and the trial number was shown. The trunk angle increased over time for novices but decreased for experts. These cond study reports the results of an experiment investigating how users’ behavior with two locomotion methods changed over four weeks: teleportation and joystick-based locomotion. Twenty novice VR users (no more than 1 hour prior experience with any form of walking in VR) were recruited. They loaned an Oculus Quest for four weeks on their own time, including an activity we provided them with. Results showed that the time required to complete the navigation task decreased faster for joystick-based locomotion. Spatial memory improved with time, particularly when using teleportation (which starts disadvantaged to joystick-based locomotion). Also, overall cyber sickness decreased slightly overtime; two dimensions of cyber sickness (nausea and disorientation) increased notably over time using joystick-based navigation. The next study presents the findings of a longitudinal research study investigating the effects of locomotion methods within virtual reality on participants’ spatial awareness during VR experiences and subsequent real-world gait parameters. The study encompasses two distinct environments: the real world and VR. In the real world setting, we analyze key gait parameters, including walking speed, distance traveled, and stepcount, both pre and post-VR exposure, to perceive the influence of VR locomotion on post-VR gait behavior. Additionally, we assess participants’ spatial awareness and the occurrence of simulator sickness, considering two locomotion methods: joy stick and teleportation. Our results reveal significant changes in gait parameters associated with increased VR locomotion experience. Furthermore, we observe a remarkable reduction in cyber sickness symptoms over successive VR sessions, particularly evident among participants utilizing joy stick locomotion. This study contributes to the understanding of gait behavior influenced by VR locomotion technology and the duration of VR immersion. Together, these studies inform how locomotion and navigation behavior may change in VR as users become more accustomed to walking in virtual reality settings. Also, comparative studies on locomotion methods help VR developers to implement the better-suited locomotion method. Thus, it provides knowledge to design and develop VR systems to perform better for different applications and groups of users.



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