Locomotion in Virtual Environments

A research project comparing the performance of three locomotion interfaces


To compare the performance of three locomotion interfaces used in Virtual environments(VE) viz a gamepad controller, a virtusphere and tracked real world walking technique.
The three interfaces were chosen to be representative of different levels of interaction fidelity with respect to locomtion .

The three interfaces

With Virtusphere being a medium fidelity locomotion interface ,
we chose a Gamepad controller to be the low fidelity locomotion interface and
real walking within a tracked space to be the high fidelity technique.


We hypothesized that the well designed low fidelity gamepad controller and the very natural high fidelity real walking would outperform the medium fidelity Virtusphere.

Experiment Design

To investigate this hypothesis,we designed a single-factor, within-subjects experiment.
The task was a basic walking task of walking on an indicated line.
The independent variable was the locomotion interface used.
The dependent variables were task completion time, path deviation (as a measure of accuracy), and participants' opinions of the interfaces.
Twelve participants (10 males and 2 females) from Virginia Tech's undergraduate and graduate population were recruited on a voluntary basis for our study.
The participants ranged in age from 18 to 35 years.
Subjects under the age of 18 and subjects with weight over 190 lbs (the weight limit of the Virtusphere) were excluded.


As hypothesized, the performance of users while using the high and low fidelity interfaces was superior than when they used the virtusphere to complete the task.
This was primarily due to the difference, in terms of motions and forces while initiating and terminating walking (not to mention changing direction), between normal walking and walking inside the virtusphere.
When users try to use regular walking in the Virtusphere, they have great trouble.
In this case, familiarity is actually a downside of the Virtusphere, and its closeness to natural walking is more of a distraction for the user than an advantage.

click here to view the IEEE paper on this topic.