A new method for generating trails from a person's movement through a virtual environment (VE) is described. The method is entirely automatic (no user input is needed), and uses string-matching to identify similar sequences of movement and derive the person's primary trail. The method was evaluated in a virtual building, and generated trails that substantially reduced the distance participants traveled when they searched for target objects in the building 5–8 weeks after a set of familiarization sessions. Only a modest amount of data (typically five traversals of the building) was required to generate trails that were both effective and stable, and the method was not affected by the order in which objects were visited. The trail generation method models an environment as a graph and, therefore, may be applied to aiding navigation in the real world and information spaces, as well as VEs.

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