There is currently much research activity involving virtual environments (VEs) and spatial behavior (spatial perception, cognition, and performance). After some initial remarks describing and categorizing the different types of research being conducted on VEs and spatial behavior, discussion in this Forum paper focuses on one specific type, namely, research concerned with the use of VE technology for training spatial behavior in the real world. We initially present an overview of issues and problems relevant to conducting research in this area, and then, in the latter portion of the paper, present an overview of the research that we believe needs to be done in this area.
We have written this paper for the forum section of Presence because, despite its length, it is essentially an opinion piece. Our aim here is not to report the results of research in our own laboratory nor to review the literature, as other available papers already serve these goals. Rather, the primary purpose of this paper is to stimulate open discussion about needed future research. In general, we believe that such a discussion can serve the research establishment as much as reports of completed work.