Wayfinding

The cognitive problem of learning a spatial representation and using it to navigate is called wayfinding. This is a higher-level process than the low-level locomotion mechanism, but the two are closely related. One trouble with locomotion systems that are not familiar in the real world is that users might not learn the spatial arrangement of the world around them. Would your brain still form place cells for an environment in the real world if you were able to teleport from place to place? We widely observe this phenomenon with people who learn to navigate a city using only GPS or taxi services, rather than doing their own wayfinding.

The teleportation mechanism reduces vection, and therefore VR sickness; however, it may come at the cost of reduced learning of the spatial arrangement of the environment. When performing teleportation, it is important not to change the yaw orientation of the viewpoint; otherwise, the user may become eve more disoriented. He might not understand where he is now positioned and oriented in the virtual world relative to the previous location.

Note that the universal simulation principle can once again be employed to borrow any effective navigation tools from the real world. If virtual buildings and cities are laid out in ways that are common in the real world, then they should be easier to navigate. Signs and landmarks can even be placed into the virtual world to help with navigation. In the real world, signs often tell us the locations of exits, the names of streets, or the boundary of a district. Landmarks such as tall buildings, windmills, or towers provide visual cues that are effective for navigation over long distances. Many of these ideas are discussed in Chapter 7 of [31].

Steven M LaValle 2016-12-31