Using programming tools in virtual environments

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Presence is the sense of being in the computer-generated environment. It is regarded as the key to understanding the success of a virtual environment. In this research we focus on desktop virtual environment authoring tools. We believe that presence is also important in authoring tools because with greater presence, people can enjoy the process of building virtual environments and increase the task performance. The type of desktop virtual environment authoring tool we are interested in is represented best by Alice. It allows novice users, who do not have knowledge of computing, to create virtual environments. We have identified some problems in Alice with respect to presence and human-computer interaction. In this dissertation, we built four virtual environment prototypes with three different interaction methods. The three interactions were: the conventional interaction method; the “tool approach” and the “pin approach"". These four prototypes were used in two experiments. In the first (presence) experiment, we investigated whether the sense of presence can be maintained with our novel interaction method. We hypothesised that the level of presence should be higher in the tool approach prototype than that in the conventional approach prototype. However, we found no difference between the mean of the presence scores in the two systems, although the presence generated in the tool approach prototype was slightly greater than in the conventional approach prototype.

Bibliography: leaves 108-115.