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Effects of travel technique and gender on a divided attention task in a virtual environment

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5 Author(s)
Suma, E.A. ; Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA ; Finkelstein, S.L. ; Clark, S. ; Goolkasian, P.
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We report a user study which compared four virtual environment travel techniques using a divided attention task. Participants used either real walking, gaze-directed, pointing-directed, or torso-directed travel to follow a target through an environment while simultaneously responding to auditory stimuli. In addition to travel technique, we investigated gender as a between-subjects variable and task difficulty (simple or complex) and task type (single or divided) as within-subjects variables. Real walking allowed superior performance over the pointing-directed technique on measures of navigation task performance and recognition of stimuli presented during navigation. This indicates that participants using real walking may have had more spare cognitive capacity to process and encode stimuli than those using pointing-directed travel. We also found a gender-difficulty interaction where males performed worse and responded slower to the attention task when the spatial task was more difficult, but no differences were observed for females between difficulty levels. While these results may be pertinent for the design of virtual environments, the nature and goal of the virtual environment tasks must be carefully considered to determine whether similar effects on performance can be expected under different conditions.

Published in:

3D User Interfaces (3DUI), 2010 IEEE Symposium on

Date of Conference:

20-21 March 2010