The effects of fully immersive virtual reality on the learning of physical tasks

Patel, K., Bailenson, J.N., Hack-Jung, S., Diankov, R., & Bajcsy , R. (2006). The effects of fully immersive virtual reality on the learning of physical tasks. Proceedings of PRESENCE 2006: The 9th Annual International Workshop on Presence. August 24 – 26, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


Fully immersive virtual settings are different from traditional virtual reality settings in that they are able to capture full body motion. This ability allows people to use their full range of physical motion to interact with other avatars, computer controlled agents, and objects in the virtual environment. As such, fully immersive virtual reality presents a novel mediated learning environment in which people can learn physical activities. Capturing human motion for virtual settings has traditionally been a model-based approach where a few degrees (on the order of tens) of freedom are mapped to virtual model. In contrast, we use an image-based solution that sacrifices visual fidelity for motion fidelity and increased degrees of freedom (on the order of hundreds). Due to the difficulties involved with building such an image-based immersive system, very little work has been done to assess the effectiveness of this form of mediated learning. In the current work, participants were taught several tai chi moves in either a 2D video system or a 3D immersive system equipped with features not possible to implement in traditional video systems. We demonstrated via blind coder ratings that people learned more in the immersive virtual reality system than in the 2D video system, and via self-report ratings the social presence was higher as well. We discuss these findings and the resulting implications for designing and testing fully immersive systems.