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Validation of the MR Simulation Approach for Evaluating the Effects of Immersion on Visual Analysis of Volume Data

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3 Author(s)
Laha, B. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA ; Bowman, D.A. ; Schiffbauer, J.D.

In our research agenda to study the effects of immersion (level of fidelity) on various tasks in virtual reality (VR) systems, we have found that the most generalizable findings come not from direct comparisons of different technologies, but from controlled simulations of those technologies. We call this the mixed reality (MR) simulation approach. However, the validity of MR simulation, especially when different simulator platforms are used, can be questioned. In this paper, we report the results of an experiment examining the effects of field of regard (FOR) and head tracking on the analysis of volume visualized micro-CT datasets, and compare them with those from a previous study. The original study used a CAVE-like display as the MR simulator platform, while the present study used a high-end head-mounted display (HMD). Out of the 24 combinations of system characteristics and tasks tested on the two platforms, we found that the results produced by the two different MR simulators were similar in 20 cases. However, only one of the significant effects found in the original experiment for quantitative tasks was reproduced in the present study. Our observations provide evidence both for and against the validity of MR simulation, and give insight into the differences caused by different MR simulator platforms. The present experiment also examined new conditions not present in the original study, and produced new significant results, which confirm and extend previous existing knowledge on the effects of FOR and head tracking. We provide design guidelines for choosing display systems that can improve the effectiveness of volume visualization applications.

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Visualization and Computer Graphics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 4 )