Saturday, April 01, 2006

Measuring the effect of virtual reality on balance

In a doctoral dissertation (PDF) recently published by Timo Tossavainen at the University of Tampere, Finland (the same department where I study), the effect of different types of virtual reality stimuli on balance was measured with a pretty cool setup. A force platform is placed under the test subject and stimuli very similar to the ones in the 1992 scifi film The Lawnmower Man are shown. The platform can measure whether and how much a person is leaning in a direction. They tried using both head-mounted displays and a CAVE environment where the visuals are projected on walls.

"Dots with CAVE caused 3 test subjects to lose balance and 2 of them also lost balance during tunnel with CAVE" "The direction of leaning is generally the direction of rotation. For example, the subjects tend to lean left during counter-clockwise rotation around the line of sight"

Below are some images which were included in the dissertation, check out the whole PDF for more, including the actual "stabilograms" that the force platform produced.