Do we need to walk for effective virtual reality navigation? Physical rotations alone may suffice

Bernhard E. Riecke, Bobby Bodenheimer, Timothy P. McNamara, Betsy Williams, Peng Peng, Daniel Feuereissen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

83 Scopus citations


Physical rotations and translations are the basic constituents of navigation behavior, yet there is mixed evidence about their relative importance for complex navigation in virtual reality (VR). In the present experiment, 24 participants wore head-mounted displays and performed navigational search tasks with rotations/translations controlled by physical motion or joystick. As expected, physical walking showed performance benefits over joystick navigation. Controlling translations via joystick and rotations via physical rotations led to better performance than joystick navigation, and yielded almost comparable performance to actual walking in terms of search efficiency and time. Walking resulted, however, in increased viewpoint changes and shorter navigation paths, suggesting a rotation/translation tradeoff and different navigation strategies. While previous studies have emphasized the importance of full physical motion via walking (Ruddle & Lessels, 2006, 2009), our data suggests that considerable navigation improvements can already be gained by allowing for full-body rotations, without the considerable cost, space, tracking, and safety requirements of free-space walking setups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpatial Cognition VII - International Conference Spatial Cognition 2010, Proceedings
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference Spatial Cognition 2010 - Mt. Hood/Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Aug 15 2010Aug 19 2010

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume6222 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


OtherInternational Conference Spatial Cognition 2010
CountryUnited States
CityMt. Hood/Portland, OR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)

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