Abstract

This paper describes experiments regarding navigation performance using a new locomotion interface for walking through virtual space. Although traveling on foot is the most intuitive style of locomotion, proprioceptive feedback from walking is not provided in most applications of virtual environments. We developed an infinite surface driven by actuators for enabling a sense of walking. Torus-shaped surfaces are selected to realize the locomotion interface. The device employs twelve sets of treadmills, connected side by side and driven in perpendicular directions. The virtual infinite surface is generated by the motion of the treadmills. A walker can go in any direction while his/her position is fixed in the real world. The device is called a Torus Treadmill. Navigation performance was measured by path-reproduction tests. Subjects were immersed in a virtual grass-covered plain on which a cone-shaped target object was placed. The subjects first traveled to the target object. After they reached it, the target object disappeared and the rehomed subjects were asked to return to the place where the target object was placed. We also set two target objects, and the subject traveled along a bent path. We compared two locomotion modes: walking on the Torus Treadmill and moving purely by joystick operation. The results of the bent-path experiment showed that the accuracy of the path reproduction in the Torus Treadmill mode is better than that of joystick mode.

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