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Depth perception in real and virtual environments: An exploration of individual differences

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(Thesis) M.Sc.
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Virtual Reality Environments are becoming increasingly common in the design of auto- mobiles and airplanes for their potential to reduce labourious and time intensive design processes. Unfortunately, variations in users’ abilities to correctly perceive depth using virtual reality displays are a substantial obstacle to their use in industry. To examine this problem, a psychophysical experiment was conducted using a staircase method to observe how the difference threshold in a distance discrimination task varied in comparisons of real and virtual stimuli. A questionnaire was also used to explore whether the subject’s background and previous training, or their ability to tolerate ambiguity could account for individual differences in performance. Results showed significant individual differences, and high variability but no effect was found for the subjects’ distance thresholds, although some of the variation in subject response time appears to be related to distance, gender and the cognitive factor of tolerance of ambiguity.
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