An assessment of eye-gaze potential within immersive virtual environments
Murray, N., Roberts, D., Steed, A., Sharkey, P., Dickerson, P. and Rae, J. (2007) An assessment of eye-gaze potential within immersive virtual environments. ACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing Communications and Applications, 3 (4). ISSN 1551-6857
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1145/1314303.1314311
In collaborative situations, eye gaze is a critical element of behavior which supports and fulfills many activities and roles. In current computer-supported collaboration systems, eye gaze is poorly supported. Even in a state-of-the-art video conferencing system such as the access grid, although one can see the face of the user, much of the communicative power of eye gaze is lost. This article gives an overview of some preliminary work that looks towards integrating eye gaze into an immersive collaborative virtual environment and assessing the impact that this would have on interaction between the users of such a system. Three experiments were conducted to assess the efficacy of eye gaze within immersive virtual environments. In each experiment, subjects observed on a large screen the eye-gaze behavior of an avatar. The eye-gaze behavior of that avatar had previously been recorded from a user with the use of a head-mounted eye tracker. The first experiment was conducted to assess the difference between users' abilities to judge what objects an avatar is looking at with only head gaze being viewed and also with eye- and head-gaze data being displayed. The results from the experiment show that eye gaze is of vital importance to the subjects, correctly identifying what a person is looking at in an immersive virtual environment. The second experiment examined whether a monocular or binocular eye-tracker would be required. This was examined by testing subjects' ability to identify where an avatar was looking from their eye direction alone, or by eye direction combined with convergence. This experiment showed that convergence had a significant impact on the subjects' ability to identify where the avatar was looking. The final experiment looked at the effects of stereo and mono-viewing of the scene, with the subjects being asked to identify where the avatar was looking. This experiment showed that there was no difference in the subjects' ability to detect where the avatar was gazing. This is followed by a description of how the eye-tracking system has been integrated into an immersive collaborative virtual environment and some preliminary results from the use of such a system.