For my Honors thesis I got deeply involved in virtual reality. I wanted to understand how users could navigate around a virtual environment whilst staying immersed in the experience and not throwing up. To do this I created 4 virtual travel techniques using a variety of input devices, including Polhemus trackers, a head mounted display (HMD) as well as some standard inputs (mouse and keyboard). To test the various methods, I created a test environment as well as coded the travel techniques. Using Java, I created a 3D virtual maze algorithm that would output a different 3D maze for each experiment, and I placed objects pulled at random from a collection of objects I drew up in VRML. I also had to develop collision detection into the walls of the maze so that test subjects would have to remain with the maze corridors.
This paper explores several aspects of Virtual Reality (VR) navigation. Immersive travel techniques are studied as well as current research concerning wayfinding. Four immersive travel techniques have been designed and implemented. These are tested within a three dimensional Virtual Environment (VE) maze structure. Several aspects of navigation are examined, including ease of learning and use of the travel techniques, level of spatial awareness the techniques afford, as well as the degree of wayfinding the various travel techniques afford. Results of experimentation show that the HMD based technique is the most favoured technique due its inherent intuitiveness and stability leading to increased comfort, ease of use, spatial awareness and wayfinding affordances.
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