Two experiments investigated participants’ ability to search for targets in a cluttered small-scale space. The first experiment was conducted in the real world with two field of view conditions (full vs. restricted), and participants found the task trivial to perform in both. The second experiment used the same search task but was conducted in a desktop virtual environment (VE), and investigated two movement interfaces and two visual scene conditions. Participants restricted to forward only movement performed the search task quicker and more efficiently (visiting fewer targets) than those who used an interface that allowed more flexible movement (forward, backward, left, right, and diagonal). Also, participants using a high fidelity visual scene performed the task significantly quicker and more efficiently than those who used a low fidelity scene. The performance differences between all the conditions decreased with practice, but the performance of the best VE group approached that of the real-world participants. These results indicate the importance of using high fidelity scenes in VEs, and suggest that the use of a simple control system is sufficient for maintaining ones spatial orientation during searching
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