Abstract: Audio vs. Visual Avatars as Guides in Virtual Environments
Nico Brettschneider, Jens Herder, Jeroen de Mooij, Bektur Ryskeldiev. Audio vs. Visual Avatars as Guides in Virtual Environments, 21th International Conference on Human and Computer, Shizuoka University, Hamamatsu, Japan, 28-29, March, 2019.
Through constant technical progress, multi-user virtual reality is transforming towards a social activity that is no longer only used by remote users, but also in large-scale location-based experiences. We evaluate the usage of realtime-tracked avatars in co-located business-oriented applications in a "guide-user-scenario" in comparison to audio only instructions. The present study examined the effect of an avatar-guide on the user-related factors of Spatial Presence, Social Presence, User Experience and Task Load in order to propose design guidelines for co-located collaborative immersive virtual environments. Therefore, an application was developed and a user study with 40 participants was conducted in order to compare both guiding techniques of a realtime-tracked avatar guide and a non-visualised guide with otherwise constant conditions. Results reveal that the avatar-guide enhanced and stimulated communicative processes while facilitating interaction possibilities and creating a higher sense of mental immersion for users. Furthermore, the avatar-guide appeared to make the storyline more engaging and exciting while helping users adapt to the medium of virtual reality. Even though no assertion could be made concerning the Task Load factor, the avatar-guide achieved a higher subjective value on User Experience. Due to the results, avatars can be considered valuable social elements in the design of future co-located collaborative virtual environments.
Virtual Reality, Co-located Collaborations, Networked Immersive Virtual Environments, Head-mounted Display, Avatars, Social Presence
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