Feeling Alone in Public. Investigating the Influence of Spatial Layout on Users' VR Experience

Tuesday 2 October 2018
Organisers or author: 
Christian Mai, Tim Wiltzius, Florian Alt, Heinrich Hussmann

Full paper.

We investigate how spatial layout in public environments like workplaces, fairs, or conferences influences a user’s VR experience. In particular, we compare environments in which an HMD user is (a) surrounded by other people, (b) physically separated by a barrier, or (c) in a separate room. In contrast to lab environments, users in public environments are affected by physical threats (for example, other people in the space running into them) but also cognitive threats (for example. not knowing, what happens in the real world), as known from research on proxemics or social facilitation. We contribute an extensive discussion of the factors influencing a user’s VR experience in public. Based on this we conducted a between subject design user study (N=58) to understand the differences between the three environments. As a result, we present implications regarding (1) spatial layout, (2) behavior of the VR system operator, and (3) the VR experience that helps both HCI researchers as well as practitioners to enhance users’ VR experience in public environments.