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Comparing two types of navigational interfaces for Virtual Reality


Previous studies suggest significant differences between navigating virtual environments in a life-like walking manner (i.e., using treadmills or walk-in-place techniques) and virtual navigation (i.e., flying while really standing). The latter option, which usually involves hand-centric devices (e.g., joysticks), is the most common in Virtual Reality-based studies, mostly due to low costs, less space and technology demands. However, recently, new interaction devices, originally conceived for videogames have become available offering interesting potentialities for research. This study aimed to explore the potentialities of the Nintendo Wii Balance Board as a navigation interface in a Virtual Environment presented in an immersive Virtual Reality system. Comparing participants’ performance while engaged in a simulated emergency egress allows determining the adequacy of such alternative navigation interface on the basis of empirical results. Forty university students participated in this study. Results show that participants were more efficient when performing navigation tasks using the Joystick than with the Balance Board. However there were no significantly differences in the behavioral compliance with exit signs. Therefore, this study suggests that, at least for tasks similar to the studied, the Balance Board have good potentiality to be used as a navigation interface for Virtual Reality systems.