Moving Avatars and Agents in Social Extended Reality Environments

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PubDate: June 2023

Teams: Universität Hamburg;Simon Fraser University

Writers: Jann Philipp Freiwald, Susanne Schmidt, Bernhard E. Riecke, Frank Steinicke

PDF: Moving Avatars and Agents in Social Extended Reality Environments

Abstract

Natural interaction between multiple users within a shared virtual environment (VE) relies on each other’s awareness of the current position of the interaction partners. This, however, cannot be warranted when users employ noncontinuous locomotion techniques, such as teleportation, which may cause confusion among bystanders. In this paper, we pursue two approaches to create a pleasant experience for both the moving user and the bystanders observing that movement. First, we will introduce a Smart Avatar system that delivers continuous full-body human representations for noncontinuous locomotion in shared virtual reality (VR) spaces. Smart Avatars imitate their assigned user’s real-world movements when close-by and autonomously navigate to their user when the distance between them exceeds a certain threshold, i.e., after the user teleports. As part of the Smart Avatar system, we implemented four avatar transition techniques and compared them to conventional avatar locomotion in a user study, revealing significant positive effects on the observer’s spatial awareness, as well as pragmatic and hedonic quality scores. Second, we introduce the concept of Stuttered Locomotion, which can be applied to any continuous locomotion method. By converting a continuous movement into short-interval teleport steps, we provide the merits of non-continuous locomotion for the moving user while observers can easily keep track of their path. Thus, while the experience for observers is similarly positive as with continuous motion, a user study confirmed that Stuttered Locomotion can significantly reduce the occurrence of cybersickness symptoms for the moving user, making it an attractive choice for shared VEs. We will discuss the potential of Smart Avatars and Stuttered Locomotion for shared VR experiences, both when applied individually and in combination.

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