Usability in virtual and augmented environments: a qualitative study

Angela Pimentel, Paulo Dias, Frank van Huussen, Pauline van der Horst, Jan-Willem Baggerman, Rafael Bidarra, Joaquim Madeira, Beatriz Sousa Santos
Proceedings of 2nd Portuguese HCI Conference - Interacao 2006, page 143--146 - oct 2006
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Virtual and Augmented Reality are developing rapidly: there is a multitude of environments and experiments in several laboratories using from simple HMD (Head-Mounted Display) visualization to more complex and expensive 6-wall projection CAVEs, and other systems. Still, there is not yet a clear emerging technology in this area, nor commercial applications based on such a technology are used in large scale. In addition to the fact that this is a relatively recent technology, there is little work to validate the utility and usability of Virtual and Augmented Reality environments when compared with the traditional desktop set-up. However, usability evaluation is crucial in order to design better systems that respond to the users' needs, as well as for identifying applications that might really gain from the use of such technologies. This paper presents a preliminary usability evaluation of a low-cost Virtual and Augmented Reality environment under development at the University of Aveiro, Portugal. The objective is to assess the difference between a traditional desktop set-up and a Virtual/Augmented Reality system based on a stereo HMD. Two different studies were performed: the first one was qualitative and some feedback was obtained from domain experts who used an Augmented Reality set-up as well as a desktop in different data visualization scenarios. The second study consisted in a controlled experiment meant to compare users' performances in a gaming scenario in a Virtual Reality environment and a desktop. The overall conclusion is that these technologies still have to overcome some hardware problems. However, for short periods of time and specific applications, Virtual and Augmented Reality seems to be a valid alternative since HMD interaction is intuitive and natural.

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BibTex references

@InProceedings { PDHHBBMS06,
  author       = "Pimentel, Angela and Dias, Paulo and Huussen, Frank van and Horst, Pauline van der and Baggerman, Jan-Willem and Bidarra, Rafael and Madeira, Joaquim and Sousa Santos, Beatriz",
  title        = "Usability in virtual and augmented environments: a qualitative study",
  booktitle    = "Proceedings of 2nd Portuguese HCI Conference - Interacao 2006",
  pages        = "143--146",
  month        = "oct",
  year         = "2006",
  address      = "Braga, Portugal",
  url          = ""

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» Angela Pimentel
» Paulo Dias
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» Jan-Willem Baggerman
» Rafael Bidarra
» Joaquim Madeira
» Beatriz Sousa Santos