Participants used a helmet-mounted display (HMD) and a desk-top (monitor) display to learn the layouts of two large-scale virtual environments (VEs) through repeated, direct navigational experience. Both VEs were “virtual buildings” containing more than seventy rooms. Participants using the HMD navigated the buildings significantly more quickly and developed a significantly more accurate sense of relative straight-line distance. There was no significant difference between the two types of display in terms of the distance that participants traveled or the mean accuracy of their direction estimates. Behavioral analyses showed that participants took advantage of the natural, head-tracked interface provided by the HMD in ways that included “looking around” more often while traveling through the VEs, and spending less time stationary in the VEs while choosing a direction in which to travel.

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