AUTHORS: Frank Steinicke, Gerd Bruder, Klaus Hinrichs, Anthony Steed, Alexander L. Gerlach
ABSTRACT: In order to increase a user's sense of presence in an artificial environment some researchers propose a gradual transition from reality to the virtual world instead of immersing users into the virtual world directly. One approach is to start the VR experience in a virtual replica of the physical space to accustom users to the characteristics of VR, e.g., latency, reduced field of view or tracking errors, in a known environment. Although this procedure is already applied in VR demonstrations, until now it has not been verified whether the usage of such a transitional environment - as transition between real and virtual environment - increases someone's sense of presence. We have observed subjective, physiological and behavioral reactions of subjects during a fully-immersive flight phobia experiment under two different conditions: the virtual flight environment was displayed immediately, or subjects visited a transitional environment before entering the virtual flight environment. We have quantified to what extent a gradual transition to the VE via a transitional environment increases the level of presence. We have found that subjective responses show significantly higher scores for the user's sense of presence, and that subjects' behavioral reactions change when a transitional environment is shown first. Considering physiological reactions, no significant difference could be found.
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