Applications of Binocular Parallax Stereoscopic Displays for Tasks Involving Spatial Cognition in 3D Virtual Environments

Applications of Binocular Parallax Stereoscopic Displays for Tasks Involving Spatial Cognition in 3D Virtual Environments

Mark Thomas McMahon, Michael Garrett
DOI: 10.4018/ijgcms.2014100102
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Stereoscopic display technologies have seen wide spread application in entertainment and gaming contexts through their ability to intensify the perception of depth. However, their potential for enhancing the development and application of spatial knowledge within a 3D space is not as certain. Existing research suggests that stereoscopic displays can contribute both positively and negatively to the process of spatial cognition within 3D virtual environments. In order to explore this issue, a study comparing experience with binocular parallax stereoscopic displays to standard monoscopic displays was undertaken using a 3D virtual environment that required users to complete tasks using spatial cues. Findings suggested that spatial experience with binocular parallax stereoscopic displays and standard monoscopic displays was comparable in terms of effectiveness, though the experience was subjective and many participants found that binocular parallax stereoscopy created a strong emotional response.
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2. Literature Review

3D virtual environments can approximate interaction which occurs in the real world by providing users fluid control inside a dynamic three dimensional space. The high visual fidelity inherent in 3D virtual environments affords the depiction of authentic virtual spaces where the behaviour of objects and their subsequent relationships with each other and the user can be faithfully represented whilst also fostering sensations of presence and immersion (Germanchis, Cartwright, & Pettit, 2005; Petridis et al., 2012; Sadowski & Stanney, 2002; Shiratuddin & Thabet, 2002). Given these affordances, 3D virtual environments are well suited to the representation of tasks that may involve movement, navigation, orientation, complex object manipulation, or decision making in three dimensional space (Graafland, Schraagen, & Schijven, 2012; Munro, Breaux, Patrey, & Sheldon, 2002). Undertaking these types of tasks relies on the development of a functioning spatial representation of an environment, which includes knowledge of objects and their locations and an understanding and encoding of the spatial relations that exist between them. Spatial concepts and spatial relations play a fundamental role in the cognitive structure at every level of representation, from the perception of objects to the perception of geometry (Olson & Bialystok, 1983).

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