Evaluation of the cognitive effects of travel technique in complex real and virtual environments

Evan Suma, Samantha Finkelstein, Myra Reid, Sabarish Babu, Amy Ulinski, Larry F. Hodges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


We report a series of experiments conducted to investigate the effects of travel technique on information gathering and cognition in complex virtual environments. In the first experiment, participants completed a non-branching multilevel 3D maze at their own pace using either real walking or one of two virtual travel techniques. In the second experiment, we constructed a real-world maze with branching pathways and modeled an identical virtual environment. Participants explored either the real or virtual maze for a predetermined amount of time using real walking or a virtual travel technique. Our results across experiments suggest that for complex environments requiring a large number of turns, virtual travel is an acceptable substitute for real walking if the goal of the application involves learning or reasoning based on information presented in the virtual world. However, for applications that require fast, efficient navigation or travel that closely resembles real-world behavior, real walking has advantages over common joystick-based virtual travel techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5204082
Pages (from-to)690-702
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 19 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Navigation
  • Real walking
  • Travel techniques
  • User study
  • Virtual reality


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