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Eye height manipulations: a possible solution to reduce underestimation of egocentric distances in head-mounted displays

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Article number1
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>ACM Transactions on Applied Perception
Issue number1
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


Virtual reality technology can be considered a multipurpose tool for diverse applications in various domains, for example, training, prototyping, design, entertainment, and research investigating human perception. However, for many of these applications, it is necessary that the designed and computer-generated virtual environments are perceived as a replica of the real world. Many research studies have shown that this is not necessarily the case. Specifically, egocentric distances are underestimated compared to real-world estimates regardless of whether the virtual environment is displayed in a head-mounted display or on an immersive large-screen display. While the main reason for this observed distance underestimation is still unknown, we investigate a potential approach to reduce or even eliminate this distance underestimation. Building up on the angle of declination below the horizon relationship for perceiving egocentric distances, we describe how eye height manipulations in virtual reality should affect perceived distances. In addition, we describe how this relationship could be exploited to reduce distance underestimation for individual users. In a first experiment, we investigate the influence of a manipulated eye height on an action-based measure of egocentric distance perception. We found that eye height manipulations have similar predictable effects on an action-based measure of egocentric distance as we previously observed for a cognitive measure. This might make this approach more useful than other proposed solutions across different scenarios in various domains, for example, for collaborative tasks. In three additional experiments, we investigate the influence of an individualized manipulation of eye height to reduce distance underestimation in a sparse-cue and a rich-cue environment. In these experiments, we demonstrate that a simple eye height manipulation can be used to selectively alter perceived distances on an individual basis, which could be helpful to enable every user to have an experience close to what was intended by the content designer.