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Front. ICT | doi: 10.3389/fict.2018.00027

Using Virtual Reality to Assess the Street Crossing Behavior of Pedestrians with Simulated Macular Degeneration at a Roundabout

  • 1Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Vanderbilt University, United States
  • 2Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University, United States

This work investigates how pedestrian street crossing behavior at a virtual traffic roundabout is affected by central visual field loss. We exposed participants with normal vision to a first-person virtual experience of central visual field loss of variable size in the form of a simulated scotoma, an area of the visual field with degraded visual acuity. A larger size of scotoma influenced people to select longer gaps between traffic, and to wait longer before initiating a crossing. In addition, a gender difference was found for risk taking behavior. Male subjects tended to take more risk, as indicated by the selection of shorter gaps in traffic and a shorter delay before the initiation of a crossing. Our findings generally replicate those of studies done in real-world conditions using participants afflicted with genuine central vision loss, supporting the hypothesis that virtual reality is a safe and accessible alternative for investigating similar issues of public concern.

Keywords: Macular Degeneration, gap affordances, Street crossing, virtual traffic simulation, perception and action coupling, Roundabout

Received: 02 Jan 2018; Accepted: 13 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Joseph L. Gabbard, Virginia Tech, United States

Reviewed by:

Bruno Herbelin, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
Dorian Gorgan, Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania  

Copyright: © 2018 Wu, Ashmead, Adams and Bodenheimer. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Bobby Bodenheimer, Vanderbilt University, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, VU Station B #351679, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, 37235-1679, TN, United States, bobby.bodenheimer@vanderbilt.edu