Project R: Neu Viberg 3

Identification and Analysis of Features and Objects Relevant for Orientation and Navigation Using Virtual Reality Techniques

Michael Popp

University of the Federal Armed Forces Munich, Human Factors Institute

Duration : 2000 - 2002


Thorndyke & Stasz stated 1980 that the process of becoming familiar with a new city or district develops in a series of steps or 'levels of knowledge'. Initially we orient ourselves by highly salient visual landmarks. The second level is the level of route knowledge in which we get the ability to navigate from one spot to another, using visual cues to guide the decision where to go next. Both, landmark and route navigation are based on an egocentered frame of reference. In the last level of geographic knowledge, the frame of reference is shifted from ego-centered
to a world-centered frame of reference and environmental knowledge is represented in our mind in a form, which Tolman in 1948 called 'cognitive maps'. This term 'map' was misleading for those, who do not read his papers carefully. Usual paper-maps are static in principle and Tolman thought with his term 'map' of something dynamic. One good description of that idea is formulated in the paper of Pasemann in 1996.

If the richness of the visual world is one important factor in becoming familiar with a new terrain, it is of great interest to learn something about the relevant visual cues for orientation and navigation. Computer generated virtual realities in different stages of visual resolution can help to get an answer to that question.

The answer to this question is important for practical purposes too. Worldwide, the efforts in constructing and programming virtual realities for training and research climb up into the region of mega - dollars and - man-hours. If we could be sure that a certain level of detail is sufficient to deliver the relevant cues to the subjects of our training or research devices, our work could be much easier.

Approach: empirical investigation
Area of Research: cognitive psychology
Topics: geographic maps, context, navigation, motion, virtual reality, mental models, cognitive maps, perception

mail us your comments or remarks last updated: March 2003