Perception of Distance in Virtual Reality

An Archive of a Research Project conducted In the University of Minnesota In Summer 2014 Under CRA-W's DREU program

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Week Eight

This week, my partner and I did a few more modifications to the virtual environment we are working on.

The first one was the addition of a Postprocessing Volume to the game environment which would give us the option to shut the display in the HMD off at anytime we want. Since the main part of the experiment would be blind walking, the experimenter needs to be sure that even if the participants open their eyes accidentally, they will not be able to see anything if we can shut off the display. To this effect, we used a box-like feature of Unreal called Postprocessing Volume to enclose the game environment and turn it black when ever we tell it too.

The other modification was the replacement of all of the female avatars by a male avatar. We had to do this because the lab is planning to eventually use a model of one of the graduate students (male) as a walking avatar. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to use a male avatar of the same height as the student in the current environment as well so that the replacement later on would not be difficult for them. Even though this one was a modification with the least effect, it was the most time consuming. Moreover, we still need to add to more animated avatars into the environment.

Fig: The Male Walking Avatar

The other modification was related to the position of the target tape-mark. Previously, the target was always placed at any position within the measurement of the lab's walking space. However, this became problematic since the distance between the participants and the target varies greatly (Some people may always get long distances while others may get short distance frequently). Therefore, we made the target to always show up with in a short distance range that is placed at a constant distance from where the participant is standing.

Apart from the above, we also worked with the grad student, Peng, to connect the VR with a Head Mount Device for the first time.