Work Stretching Space: Redirected Walking

Virtual reality training systems do not allow users to walk through large areas due to size limitations in the physical space. Change blindness redirection is a novel technique for enabling real walking through an immersive virtual environment that is considerably larger than the available physical workspace by subtly manipulating the environment structure behind the user’s back. This approach improves on previous redirection techniques, as it does not introduce any visual-vestibular conflicts from manipulating the mapping between physical and virtual motions, nor does it require breaking presence to stop and explicitly reorient the user. We conducted two user studies to evaluate the effectiveness of the change blindness illusion when exploring a virtual office building that was an order of magnitude larger than the physical walking space. Only one out of 77 participants across both studies definitively noticed that a scene change had occurred, suggesting that change blindness redirection provides a remarkably compelling illusion. Perhaps more significant is that despite the dynamically changing environment, participants were able to draw coherent sketch maps of the environment structure, and pointing task results indicated that they were able to maintain their spatial orientation within the virtual world.

REFERENCES E. Suma, S. Clark, S. Finkelstein, and Z. Wartell, “Exploiting Change Blindness to Expand Walkable Space in a Virtual Environment,” IEEE Virtual Reality 2010, pp. 305-306.