Unconstrained Walking in Virtual Environments

To most people walking is a trivial and frequent everyday activity. However, allowing users to freely walk through virtual environments presents a considerable problem. The solutions to this problem can broadly be divided into three categories: (1) Repositioning systems, such as omnidirectional treadmills, enable walking by cancelling the user’s forward movement. (2) Gesture-based locomotion requires the user to perform gestures, such as steps in place, that serve as a proxy for actual steps. (3) Redirected walking makes it possible to control the user’s physical path by manipulating the mapping between the user’s real and virtual movements or by manipulating the virtual environment.  This project focuses on the development and evaluation of virtual walking techniques belonging to these three categories. To date the work has resulted in the completion of one PhD project, performed by Niels Christian Nilsson and supervised by Rolf Nordahl and Stefania Serafin. The project also involved collaborations with international researchers, including Eric Hodgson (Miami University, Ohio), Evan Suma Rosenberg (University of Minnesota), Frank Steinicke (University of Hamburg), Gerd Bruder (University of Central Florida), Tabitha Peck (Davidson College), and Mary Whitton (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

Selected publications: Natural Walking in Virtual Reality: A Review15 Years of Research on Redirected Walking in Immersive Virtual EnvironmentsTapping-In-Place: Increasing the naturalness of immersive walking-in-place locomotion through novel gestural inputEstablishing the Range of Perceptually Natural Visual Walking Speeds for Virtual Walking-In-Place LocomotionWalking Without Moving.