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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Robot. AI | doi: 10.3389/frobt.2019.00104

How Foot Tracking Matters: The Impact of an Animated Self-Avatar on Interaction, Embodiment and Presence in Shared Virtual Environments

  • 1University College London, United Kingdom

The use of a self-avatar representation in immersive virtual reality has been shown to have important effects on user behavior. However, relatively few studies focus on feet and legs. We implemented a shared virtual reality for consumer virtual reality systems where each user could be represented by a gender-matched self-avatar, dynamically controlled by multiple trackers. The self-avatar allowed participants to see their feet, legs and part of their torso when they looked down. We implemented an experiment where participants worked together to solve jigsaw puzzles. Participants experienced either no-avatar, a self-avatar with floating feet, or a self-avatar with tracked feet, in a between-subjects manipulation. Firstly, we found that participants could solve the puzzle more quickly with self-avatars than without self-avatars; but there was no significant difference between the latter two conditions, solely on task completion time. Secondly, we found participants with tracked feet place their feet statistically significant closer to obstacles than participants floating feet, whereas participants who did not have a self-avatar, usually ignored obstacles. Our post experience questionnaire results confirmed that the use of a self-avatar has important effects on presence and interaction. Together the results show that although the impact of animated legs might be subtle, it does change how users behave around obstacles. This could have important implications for the design of virtual spaces for applications such as training or behavioral analysis.

Keywords: virtual reality, SVE, Self avatar, Foot tracking, Interaction

Received: 30 Sep 2018; Accepted: 09 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Pan and Steed. 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: Dr. Ye Pan, University College London, London, United Kingdom, y.pan@cs.ucl.ac.uk