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Virtual Reality 14

Standard No:ISSN 1359-4338 (print) EISSN 1434-9957 (online)
Links:link.springer.com | Twitter | Table of Contents
  1. VR 2010-03 Volume 14 Issue 1
  2. VR 2010-06 Volume 14 Issue 2
  3. VR 2010-09 Volume 14 Issue 3
  4. VR 2010-12 Volume 14 Issue 4

VR 2010-03 Volume 14 Issue 1

Special Issue on Presence

Editorial BIBFull-Text 1-2
  Anna Spagnolli; Matthew Lombard; Luciano Gamberini
Personality variables and presence BIBAKFull-Text 3-13
  Helene S. Wallach; Marilyn P. Safir; Roy Samana
The present study was designed to examine the correlation between five personality traits (empathy, imagination, immersive tendencies, dissociation tendencies and locus of control) and presence. Moreover, this study aimed to identify an optimal virtual reality user's profile. Eighty-four students (66 women, 18 men) completed personality questionnaires, experienced exposure in a virtual environment and completed a presence questionnaire. Twenty-three women, among them 13 non-Jewish women and no men, neglected to look out the virtual window, and reported lower levels of presence. Presence correlated with immersive tendencies and empathy. However, empathy and internal locus of control were the best predictors for the sense of presence. A correlation between imagination and presence was only found in the group that avoided viewing the virtual window. This study revealed the importance of empathy and internal locus of control in the sense of presence. In addition, our findings suggest that the subject's imagination has an important role when the virtual environment is restricted and that we must attend to cultural and gender-related factors when investigating therapy using virtual reality technology.
Keywords: Presence; Locus of control; Empathy; Immersion; Imagination; Dissociation; Virtual reality; Ethnicity; Gender
Telepresence, soundscapes and technological expectation: putting the observer into the equation BIBAKFull-Text 15-25
  Gary Pettey; Cheryl Campanella Bracken; Bridget Rubenking
In an experiment exploring the impact of sound on sensations of telepresence, 126 participants watched a video clip using either headphones or speakers. The results illustrate that sound is an important factor in stimulating telepresence responses in audiences. Interactions between soundscape and screen size were also revealed. A traverse interaction between aural/visual congruency and soundscapes was evident. A second data set of 102 participants was collected to illuminate the effect of technological expectation that emerged in the first study. Expectations had been mentioned in other studies, and the data support the notion that people have an expectation of the technological quality of a presentation. The results suggest that examining expectations could assist in future conceptualizations of telepresence.
Keywords: Telepresence; Sound; Speakers; Headphones; Technological expectation
Distraction as a measure of presence: using visual and tactile adjustable distraction as a measure to determine immersive presence of content in mediated environments BIBAKFull-Text 27-42
  Rolf Nordahl; Dannie Korsgaard
To assess and improve the user experience in entertainment products, developers need results of evaluation methods, which in detail measure the relationship between the mediated content and the resulting media experience. This paper proposes a method applying adjustable distraction (AD) to determine presence as immersion (Lombard and Ditton in At the heart of it all: the concept of presence, Department of Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media, Temple University, 1997) at selectable events (approximated real-time). Two experiments were conducted to investigate its applicability in computer games and movies with respectively visual and tactile AD. The first experiment examined whether the experienced intensity in a survival-shooter game, measured through questionnaires, was proportional to results from the AD method. The intrusiveness of the AD method was also addressed in the experiment by comparing the immersive presence ratings in a between-groups design. The second experiment investigated whether heart rate measurements, intensity ratings and the results of the AD method with vibration as the distraction signal were proportional when test participants watched a movie clip. The outcome of the first experiment indicated that no significant intrusion is caused by the method. In addition, results showed no proportionality between the AD method and intensity ratings. However, as the AD measurements were supported by flow theory, it might be that the results from the AD method using visual distraction are giving a more comprehensive indication of presence as immersion (rather than just the intensity dimension). The second experiment revealed proportionality between the intensity ratings and the heart rate measurements, while the results from the tactile AD method were not proportional. We suspect that this was caused by the great variance found across the test participants' thresholds of perceivable vibration. Because of this, it is suggested that a thorough screening process is conducted pre-test if the AD method should apply vibration as the distracting stimulus.
Keywords: Presence; Evaluation; Computer games; Visual; Tactile; Distraction; Measurement
Measuring presence with verbal versus pictorial scales: a comparison between online- and ex post-ratings BIBAKFull-Text 43-53
  Bartholomäus Wissmath; David Weibel; Fred W. Mast
In this study, we compare subjective online- and post-immersion measures. Although its relevance appears obvious from a theoretical and applied research perspective, this question has not yet been addressed in previous studies. In addition, we also compare verbally and pictorially anchored scales. These factors were measured in different contents using a 2x2x2 design. We manipulated time of measure (online vs. ex post), type of measure (verbal vs. visual), and content (language vs. language-free). Participants (N=162) evaluated two video clips in terms of presence. No differences between averaged online- and post-immersion measures were found and online judgments did not interfere with the sensation of presence. In line with findings from other areas of research, the use of pictorially anchored items has major advantages. Our results suggest that those items require less mental workload and assess the sensation of presence more directly than verbally anchored items. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings.
Keywords: Presence; Online measurement; Post-rating; Verbal measures; Pictorial measures; SAM
Brain activity and presence: a preliminary study in different immersive conditions using transcranial Doppler monitoring BIBAKFull-Text 55-65
  Beatriz Rey; Mariano Alcañiz; José Tembl; Vera Parkhutik
Transcranial Doppler (TCD) sonography is a brain activity measurement technique that monitors the hemodynamic characteristics of the major cerebral arteries in normal and pathological conditions. As it is not invasive, it can be easily used in combination with virtual environments (VE). In the present study, TCD has been used to analyze brain activity variations in different presence conditions during the exposure to a VE. Forty-two subjects have taken part in the experience grouped in two different visualization conditions: a CAVE-like and a single screen projection configuration. In each session, two different navigation conditions were used: a free navigation (controlled by the subject) and an automatic navigation (controlled by the system). Results show that these immersion and navigation modifications in the VE generate changes in brain activity that can be detected using TCD techniques. Several factors, one of them being presence, could be having an influence on this behavior.
Keywords: Presence; Brain activity; Transcranial Doppler; Virtual reality; Immersion; Navigation
Perceiving interpersonally-mediated risk in virtual environments BIBAKFull-Text 67-76
  David B. Portnoy; Natalie D. Smoak; Kerry L. Marsh
Using virtual reality (VR) to examine risky behavior that is mediated by interpersonal contact, such as agreeing to have sex, drink, or smoke with someone, offers particular promise and challenges. Social contextual stimuli that might trigger impulsive responses can be carefully controlled in virtual environments (VE), and yet manipulations of risk might be implausible to participants if they do not feel sufficiently immersed in the environment. The current study examined whether individuals can display adequate evidence of presence in a VE that involved potential interpersonally-induced risk: meeting a potential dating partner. Results offered some evidence for the potential of VR for the study of such interpersonal risk situations. Participants' reaction to the scenario and risk-associated responses to the situation suggested that the embodied nature of virtual reality override the reality of the risk's impossibility, allowing participants to experience adequate situational embedding, or presence.
Keywords: Presence; Sexual risk; Embodiment; Interpersonal risk
Relating conversational expressiveness to social presence and acceptance of an assistive social robot BIBAKFull-Text 77-84
  Marcel Heerink; Ben Kröse; Vanessa Evers; Bob Wielinga
Exploring the relationship between social presence, conversational expressiveness, and robot acceptance, we set up an experiment with a robot in an eldercare institution, comparing a more and less social condition. Participants showed more expressiveness with a more social agent and a higher score on expressiveness correlated with higher scores on social presence. Furthermore, scores on social presence correlated with the scores on the intention to use the system in the near future. However, we found no correlation between conversational expressiveness and robot acceptance.
Keywords: Social presence; Technology acceptance; Social robots; Gerontechnology; Human-robot interaction

VR 2010-06 Volume 14 Issue 2

Toward the development of interactive virtual dissection with haptic feedback BIBAKFull-Text 85-103
  Nasim Melony Vafai; Shahram Payandeh
Traditional, hands-on dissection of an animal is common practice in many classrooms to aid in the study of anatomy and biology. More specifically, virtual dissection environments have been developed making it possible to study the inner workings of animals without cutting them up. In this paper, we present a novel virtual reality dissection simulator, where a user can dissect an animal (i.e. frog) and its organs using a 3D force feedback haptic device. The simulator uses force feedback as part of a multimodal cue to provide guidance and performance feedback to the user. This paper highlights methodologies which are used for addressing some of the key challenges involved in designing and developing simulators, such as: modelling and mechanics of deformation, collision detection between multiple deformable bodies, and haptic feedback.
Keywords: Virtual reality; Object deformation; Cutting; Dissection; Collision detection; Haptics; Force feedback
Exploring individual user differences in the 2D/3D interaction with medical image data BIBAKFull-Text 105-118
  Elena Zudilova-Seinstra; Boris van Schooten; Avan Suinesiaputra
User-centered design is often performed without regard to individual user differences. In this paper, we report results of an empirical study aimed to evaluate whether computer experience and demographic user characteristics would have an effect on the way people interact with the visualized medical data in a 3D virtual environment using 2D and 3D input devices. We analyzed the interaction through performance data, questionnaires and observations. The results suggest that differences in gender, age and game experience have an effect on people's behavior and task performance, as well as on subjective user preferences.
Keywords: 2D/3D interaction; Medical segmentation; Virtual environments; Multimodal; User study
Visualization and simulation of 3D artificial neural structures generated by L-system BIBAKFull-Text 119-129
  Regina Célia Coelho; Nivaldi, Jr. Calonego; Luís Augusto Consularo
This paper presents the visualization and simulation environment of 3D artificial neural structures. A stochastic L-system has been employed to generate neural structures based on features extracted from natural cells and it takes into account an hierarchical description of each neurite to allow interactions of the users in the virtual environment built. The implemented distributed virtual reality environment has its architecture explained, as well as its user interaction features to handle virtual neural structures. Furthermore, attraction/repulsion trophic fields had their effects simulated into these virtual neural structures. This approach illustrates aspects related to the neurogenesis and neural reorganization processes regarding attractive, repulsive or both interaction fields.
Keywords: L-system; Stochastic L-system; Neural growth; Neural simulation; Virtual reality environment; Collaborative environments
Nu!RehaVR: virtual reality in neuro tele-rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injury and stroke BIBAKFull-Text 131-141
  Osvaldo Gervasi; Riccardo Magni; Mauro Zampolini
The availability of virtual environments on the Web is fostering new applications of virtual reality in several fields, including some therapeutical applications. We present an application of virtual reality applied to the tele-rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injury and stroke. Our system, based on X3D and Ajax3D technologies, enhances the possibility of making tele-rehabilitation exercises aimed at the recovery of the neurological disease. The system, called Nu!RehaVR, has been designed to integrate the activity carried out on a tele-rehabilitation system, Nu!Reha (Nu!Reha is a trademark of Pragma Engineering srl. See http://www.nureha.eu) desk, with the activities performed in the virtual worlds, through some rehabilitation exercises in contexts incompatible with the patients' impairments (not able to move or forced in static positions because of therapies, etc.). The architecture of Nu!RehaVR and the environments associated to two exercises, "Utilising an elevator to reach a given floor" and "Crossing a road using a traffic light", are illustrated. These exercises can be considered as prototypes of a series of tele-rehabilitation exercises which help to stimulate the patients performing actions in relatively dangerous scenarios. The system is designed to allow the remote monitoring and assessment of the patient's activities by the medical staff at the hospital using the communication facilities of the tele-rehabilitation system.
Keywords: Nu!RehaVR; Virtual reality; Tele-rehabilitation; Neurological disease; Nu!Reha desk; Traumatic brain Injury; Stroke patients; X3D; Ajax3D
Auditory and visual 3D virtual reality therapy for chronic subjective tinnitus: theoretical framework BIBAKFull-Text 143-151
  Alain Londero; Isabelle Viaud-Delmon; Alexis Baskind; Olivier Delerue
It is estimated that 10% of the adult population in developed countries is affected by subjective tinnitus. Physiopathology of subjective tinnitus remains incompletely explained. Nevertheless, subjective tinnitus is thought to result from hyperactivity and neuroplastic reorganization of cortical and subcortical networks following acoustic deafferentation induced by cochlear or auditory nerve damage. Involvement of both auditory and non-auditory central nervous pathways explains the conscious perception of tinnitus and also the potentially incapacitating discomfort experienced by some patients (sound hypersensitivity, sleep disorders, attention deficit, anxiety or depression). These clinical patterns are similar to those observed in chronic pain following amputation where conditioning techniques using virtual reality have been shown both to be theoretically interesting and effectively useful. This analogy led us to develop an innovative setup with dedicated auditory and visual 3D virtual reality environments in which unilateral subjective tinnitus sufferers are given the possibility to voluntarily manipulate an auditory and visual image of their tinnitus (tinnitus avatar). By doing so, the patients will be able to transfer their subjective auditory perception to the tinnitus avatar and to gain agency on this multimodal virtual percept they hear, see and spatially control. Repeated sessions of such virtual reality immersions are then supposed to contribute to tinnitus treatment by promoting cerebral plasticity. This paper describes the theoretical framework and setup adjustments required by this very first attempt to adapt virtual reality techniques to subjective tinnitus treatment. Therapeutic usefulness will be validated by a further controlled clinical trial.
Keywords: Tinnitus; Virtual reality; Neuroplasticity
Guest editors' foreword to the second issue on virtual reality in scientific application BIBFull-Text 153
  Osvaldo Gervasi; Roberto Ranon

VR 2010-09 Volume 14 Issue 3

Illuminating the past: state of the art BIBAKFull-Text 155-182
  Jassim Happa; Mark Mudge; Kurt Debattista; Alessandro Artusi
Virtual reconstruction and representation of historical environments and objects have been of research interest for nearly two decades. Physically based and historically accurate illumination allows archaeologists and historians to authentically visualise a past environment to deduce new knowledge. This report reviews the current state of illuminating cultural heritage sites and objects using computer graphics for scientific, preservation and research purposes. We present the most noteworthy and up-to-date examples of reconstructions employing appropriate illumination models in object and image space, and in the visual perception domain. Finally, we also discuss the difficulties in rendering, documentation, validation and identify probable research challenges for the future. The report is aimed for researchers new to cultural heritage reconstruction who wish to learn about methods to illuminate the past.
Keywords: Cultural heritage; Computer graphics; Image-processing; Rendering; Global illumination; Reflectance transformation imaging; High dynamic range imaging; Sky modelling; Flame modelling; Colour science; Visual perception
GPU-based real-time acoustical occlusion modeling BIBAKFull-Text 183-196
  Brent Cowan; Bill Kapralos
In typical environments, the direct path between a sound source and a listener is often occluded. However, due to the phenomenon of diffraction, sound still reaches the listener by "bending" around an obstacle that lies directly in the line of straight propagation. Modeling occlusion/diffraction effects is a difficult and computationally intensive task and thus generally ignored in virtual reality and videogame applications. Driven by the gaming industry, consumer computer graphics hardware and the graphics processing unit (GPU) in particular, have greatly advanced in recent years, outperforming the computational capacity of central processing units. Given the affordability, widespread use, and availability of computer graphics hardware, here we describe a computationally efficient GPU-based method that approximates acoustical occlusion/diffraction effects in real time. Although the method has been developed primarily for videogames where occlusion/diffraction is typically overlooked, it is relevant for dynamic and interactive virtual environments as well.
Keywords: Graphics processing unit; Acoustical occlusion; Acoustical diffraction; Spatial sound; Real-time
CAVE for collaborative patient room design: analysis with end-user opinion contrasting method BIBAKFull-Text 197-211
  Mikael Wahlström; Miika Aittala; Helinä Kotilainen; Tiina Yli-Karhu
Several studies indicate that virtual reality (VR) systems are useful for end-user participation in an environmental design process. However, these systems can be costly and thus support for the decision whether to invest in a VR of some type is useful. This study presents a novel method for analysing the usefulness of a VR system for the purpose of end-user participation. We collected qualitative end-user opinion data in the real environment and then contrasted this data with the capabilities of a VR system. Additionally, to better understand the capabilities of the VR used, we examined how the end-users perceive the used virtual environment, which in this case was CAVE, an immersive VR system where projectors are directed to the walls of a room-sized cube. In this way, we analysed whether the same functions and elements identified by end-users on the actual wards could also be evaluated in the CAVE. Eleven nurses and 11 patients participated in the study by evaluating a bathroom and/or four patient rooms modelled by the CAVE and the actual hospital wards. The CAVE was convenient for evaluating most issues identified by the study participants in the actual hospital wards, i.e. aesthetics; correct location of equipment, supplies and materials; distraction by or the good companion of other patients as well as window position and size and living/workspace. However, it was not possible to evaluate with full certainty the possibilities for bracing against grab bars or other objects in the VR, and this was found to be relevant to the independent functioning of patients with limited mobility. Also, due to the relatively low luminance levels of projectors, evaluations regarding lighting were considered unreliable. Moreover, end-users were not always certain about the sizes and sufficiency of space in the CAVE. Solutions to overcome these limitations were proposed.
Keywords: Virtual reality; CAVE; Patient room design; End-user participation; Collaborative design
Pace-sync shoes: intuitive walking-pace guidance based on cyclic vibro-tactile stimulation for the foot BIBAKFull-Text 213-219
  Junji Watanabe; Hideyuki Ando
We propose a walking guidance method with a sandal-shaped vibration interface and describe two experiments we performed to formulate the design principles of the interface. In the interface, a vibrating motor presents timing information to the foot, and pressure sensors measure walking pace. Our method is a combination of the walking-state monitoring and vibro-tactile feedback to maintain or promote a walking pace. Vibration stimuli with a constant presentation interval are alternately and repeatedly given to the right or left foot of the user according to the measured walking pace, and then the walking pace gradually conforms to the presented interval of the vibration. In the experiments, we specified the effective timing and intervals of the vibration stimuli for efficient inductance of walking pace. The method is applicable for training and coaching in sports and rehabilitation in health care.
Keywords: Walking guidance; Walking pace; Foot stimulation; Vibro-tactile stimulation; Sensory-motor synchronization

VR 2010-12 Volume 14 Issue 4

Piavca: a framework for heterogeneous interactions with virtual characters BIBAFull-Text 221-228
  Marco Gillies; Xueni Pan; Mel Slater
This paper presents a virtual character animation system for real-time multimodal interaction in an immersive virtual reality setting. Human to human interaction is highly multimodal, involving features such as verbal language, tone of voice, facial expression, gestures and gaze. This multimodality means that, in order to simulate social interaction, our characters must be able to handle many different types of interaction and many different types of animation, simultaneously. Our system is based on a model of animation that represents different types of animations as instantiations of an abstract function representation. This makes it easy to combine different types of animation. It also encourages the creation of behavior out of basic building blocks, making it easy to create and configure new behaviors for novel situations. The model has been implemented in Piavca, an open source character animation system.
Human interactions and personal space in collaborative virtual environments BIBAKFull-Text 229-240
  Nasser Nassiri; Norman Powell; David Moore
As humans start to spend more time in collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) it becomes important to study their interactions in such environments. One aspect of such interactions is personal space. To begin to address this, we have conducted empirical investigations in a non immersive virtual environment: an experiment to investigate the influence on personal space of avatar gender, and an observational study to further explore the existence of personal space. Experimental results give some evidence to suggest that avatar gender has an influence on personal space although the participants did not register high personal space invasion anxiety, contrary to what one might expect from personal space invasion in the physical world. The observational study suggests that personal space does exist in CVEs, as the users tend to maintain, in a similar way to the physical world, a distance when they are interacting with each other. Our studies provide an improved understanding of personal space in CVEs and the results can be used to further enhance the usability of these environments.
Keywords: Collaborative virtual environment; Anxiety; Personal space
Interactive multi-modal suturing BIBAKFull-Text 241-253
  Shahram Payandeh; Fuhan Shi
We present a mechanics-based interactive multi-modal environment designed as part of a serious gaming platform. The specific objectives are to teach basic suturing and knotting techniques for simple skin or soft tissue wound closure. The pre-wound suturing target, skin, or deformable tissue is modeled as a modified mass-spring system. The suturing material is designed as a mechanics-based deformable linear object. Tools involved in a typical suturing procedures are also simulated. Collision management modules between the soft tissue and the needle, the soft tissue and the suture are analyzed. In addition to modeling the interactive environment of a typical suturing procedure, basics of the modeling approaches on the evaluation of a stitch formed by the user are also discussed. For example, if needle insertion points are too close from each other or to the edge of the wound, when the suture is pulled, the suture will tear the soft tissue instead of suturing the incision together. Experiment results show that our simulator can run on a standard personal computer and allow users to perform different suturing patterns with smooth graphics and haptic feedback.
Keywords: Virtual suturing; Suture model; Wound closure; Tissue tearing; Haptic feedback; Surgical training environment; Serious games
Developing serious games for cultural heritage: a state-of-the-art review BIBAKFull-Text 255-275
  Eike Falk Anderson; Leigh McLoughlin; Fotis Liarokapis
Although the widespread use of gaming for leisure purposes has been well documented, the use of games to support cultural heritage purposes, such as historical teaching and learning, or for enhancing museum visits, has been less well considered. The state-of-the-art in serious game technology is identical to that of the state-of-the-art in entertainment games technology. As a result, the field of serious heritage games concerns itself with recent advances in computer games, real-time computer graphics, virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence. On the other hand, the main strengths of serious gaming applications may be generalised as being in the areas of communication, visual expression of information, collaboration mechanisms, interactivity and entertainment. In this report, we will focus on the state-of-the-art with respect to the theories, methods and technologies used in serious heritage games. We provide an overview of existing literature of relevance to the domain, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the described methods and point out unsolved problems and challenges. In addition, several case studies illustrating the application of methods and technologies used in cultural heritage are presented.
Keywords: Cultural heritage; Serious games; Computer games technology
Context-driven interaction in immersive virtual environments BIBAKFull-Text 277-290
  Scott Frees
There are many interaction tasks a user may wish to accomplish in an immersive virtual environment. A careful examination of these tasks reveals that they are often performed under different contexts. For each task and context, specialized interaction techniques can be developed. We present the context-driven interaction model: a design pattern that represents contextual information as a first-class, quantifiable component within a user interface and supports the development of context-sensitive applications by decoupling context recognition, context representation, and interaction technique development. As a primary contribution, this model provides an enumeration of important representations of contextual information gathered from across the literature and describes how these representations can effect the selection of an appropriate interaction technique. We also identify how several popular 3D interaction techniques adhere to this design pattern and describe how the pattern itself can lead to a more focused development of effective interfaces. We have constructed a formalized programming toolkit and runtime system that serves as a reference implementation of the context-driven model and a discussion is provided explaining how the toolkit can be used to implement a collection of representative 3D interaction interfaces.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction; Context-sensitive interaction; Virtual reality; Virtual environments, 3DUI, interaction techniques