Evaluation of the effectiveness of head tracking for view and avatar control in virtual environments
Virtual environments (VE) are gaining in popularity and are increasingly used for teamwork training purposes, e.g., for medical teams. We have identified two shortcomings of modern VEs: First, nonverbal communication channels are essential for teamwork but are not supported well. Second, view control in VEs is usually done manually, requiring the user to learn the controls before being able to effectively use them. We address those two shortcomings by using an inexpensive webcam to track the user's head. The rotational movement is used to control the head movement of the user's avatar, thereby conveying head gestures and adding a nonverbal communication channel. The translational movement is used to control the view of the VE in an intuitive way. Our paper presents the results of a user study designed to investigate how well users were able to use our system's advantages.