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Toward user-adapted interaction techniques based on human locomotion laws for navigating in virtual environments

Team and supervisors
Department / Team: 
Team Web Site:
PhD Director
Maud Marchal
Co-director(s), co-supervisor(s)
Ferran Argelaguet
Anne-Hélène Olivier
NameEmail addressPhone Number
Maud Marchal
Ferran Argelaguet
Anne-Hélène Olivier
PhD subject
Context: Navigation is a key component for any virtual reality (VR) application as it enables users to modify their virtual viewpoint in order to explore a virtual environment [Bowman17]. However, due to the limited workspace of current VR systems (several square meters) physical navigation is discouraged. These limitations require the use of indirect navigation techniques which enable the control of the viewpoint through additional input devices (e.g. joystick). Although such techniques are efficient in nature, they are susceptible to generate motion sickness (a.k.a. cybersickness) which is a major undesired outcome in immersive VR experiences [Fernandes16]. The main cause is the conflict between sensory information involving visual, vestibular and proprioceptive channels [Stanney1998]. As of today, it does not exist any method able to anticipate its occurrence, while several factors have been shown to have an influence, such as task-related factors (e.g. navigation control, navigation speed or the visual display) or user experience. Therefore, cybersickness still remains a major issue when navigating in virtual environments. With the recent advances of VR technology and the drastic reduction in production costs that democratize the use of VR for the general public, answering the cybersickness issue will ensure that the general public let the VR systems becoming elements of their living room.
Objectives: From a theoretical point of view, this PhD will aim at better understanding human behaviour and motion perception in virtual environments. First, it will explore whether control mechanisms involved during human locomotion, such as head anticipation [Hicheur2007, Sreenivasa2008], are still present while navigating in VR, and second it will assess motion perception in VR through optical flow analysis [Argelaguet2016]. With a better knowledge of human behaviour and motion perception, it will then be possible to propose novel navigation techniques adapted to the users’ needs. In addition, we expect that our research will enable to better understand the major factors influencing cybersickness and to design methods able to mitigate their effects.
Approach: The PhD will be conducted through a multi-disciplinary approach involving Biomechanics, Motor Control and Computer Science. This multi- disciplinary approach, will be supported by the availability of the technical platform Immerstar, made up of 2 immersive rooms and a gymnasium dedicated to motion capture and analysis. The originality of this PhD lies in its human-centered approach: human motion laws will be used to create new navigation techniques that aim at improving the human-experience in VR. 

[Argelaguet2016] Argelaguet, F. and Maignant, M. GiAnt: stereoscopic-compliant multi-scale navigation in VEs. In Proceedings of the 22nd ACM Conference on Virtual Reality Software and Technology, pages 269-277, 2016.

[Bowman17] D.A. Bowman, E. Kruijff, J.J. LaViola and I. Poupyrev. (2017). 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice. Addison Wesley.

[Fernandes16] A. S. Fernandes and S. K. Feiner, "Combating VR sickness through subtle dynamic field-of-view modification," 2016 IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (3DUI), 2016, pp. 201-210. doi: 10.1109/3DUI.2016.7460053

[Hicheur2007] Hicheur, H., Pham, Q., Arechavaleta, G., Laumond, J. et Berthoz, A. The formation of trajectories during goal-oriented locomotion in humans. I. A stereotyped behaviour. European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 26, n° 8, pages 2376–2390, 2007.

[Sreenivasa2008] Sreenivasa, M., Frissen, I., Souman, J. et Ernst, M. Walking along curved paths of different angles: the relationship between head and trunk turning. Experimental Brain Research, vol. 191, n° 3, pages 313–320, 2008.

[Stanney1998] Stanney, K. M., Hash P.: Locus of User-Initiated Control in Virtual Environments: Influences on Cybersickness. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments. Vol. 7, Num. 5 (1998), 447–459.

Work start date: 
Septembre 2018
Virtual Reality, Human Factors, Navigation Control, Human Locomotion, Visual Attention
IRISA - Campus universitaire de Beaulieu, Rennes