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2019, 1(1): 1-9

Published Date:2019-2-20 DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.2096-5796.2018.0007

Design of finger gestures for locomotion in virtual reality


Within a virtual environment (VE) the control of locomotion (e.g., self-travel) is critical for creating a realistic and functional experience. Usually the direction of locomotion, while using a head-mounted display (HMD), is determined by the direction the head is pointing and the forward or backward motion is controlled with a hand held controllers. However, hand held devices can be difficult to use while the eyes are covered with a HMD. Free hand gestures, that are tracked with a camera or a hand data glove, have an advantage of eliminating the need to look at the hand controller but the design of hand or finger gestures for this purpose has not been well developed.
This study used a depth-sensing camera to track fingertip location (curling and straightening the fingers), which was converted to forward or backward self-travel in the VE. Fingertip position was converted to self-travel velocity using a mapping function with three parameters: a region of zero velocity (dead zone) around the relaxed hand position, a linear relationship of fingertip position to velocity (slope or β) beginning at the edge of the dead zone, and an exponential relationship rather than a linear one mapping fingertip position to velocity (exponent). Using a HMD, participants moved forward along a virtual road and stopped at a target on the road by controlling self-travel velocity with finger flexion and extension. Each of the 3 mapping function parameters was tested at 3 levels. Outcomes measured included usability ratings, fatigue, nausea, and time to complete the tasks.
Twenty subjects participated but five did not complete the study due to nausea. The size of the dead zone had little effect on performance or usability. Subjects preferred lower β values which were associated with better subjective ratings of control and reduced time to complete the task, especially for large targets. Exponent values of 1.0 or greater were preferred and reduced the time to complete the task, especially for small targets.
Small finger movements can be used to control velocity of self-travel in VE. The functions used for converting fingertip position to movement velocity influence usability and performance.


Human computer interaction ; Virtual environment ; Gesture design

Cite this article

Rachel HUANG, Carisa HARRIS-ADAMSON, Dan ODELL, David REMPEL. Design of finger gestures for locomotion in virtual reality. Virtual Reality & Intelligent Hardware, 2019, 1(1): 1-9 DOI:10.3724/SP.J.2096-5796.2018.0007


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