This article presents an interactive technique for moving through an immersive virtual environment (or virtual reality). The technique is suitable for applications where locomotion is restricted to ground level. The technique is derived from the idea that presence in virtual environments may be enhanced the stronger the match between proprioceptive information from human body movements and sensory feedback from the computer-generated displays. The technique is an attempt to simulate body movements associated with walking. The participant walks in place to move through the virtual environment across distances greater than the physical limitations imposed by the electromagnetic tracking devices. A neural network is used to analyze the stream of coordinates from the head-mounted display, to determine whether or not the participant is walking on the spot. Whenever it determines the walking behavior, the participant is moved through virtual space in the direction of his or her gaze. We discuss two experimental studies to assess the impact on presence of this method in comparison to the usual hand-pointing method of navigation in virtual reality. The studies suggest that subjective rating of presence is enhanced by the walking method provided that participants associate subjectively with the virtual body provided in the environment. An application of the technique to climbing steps and ladders is also presented.
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