Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: The Effect of Interactivity on Learning Physical Actions in Virtual Reality

The Effect of Interactivity on Learning Physical Actions in Virtual Reality

Jeremy Bailenson, Kayur Patel, Alexia Nielsen, Ruzena Bajscy, Sang-Hack Jung & Gregorij Kurillo

Media Psychology, Volume 11, Issue 3, 2008


Virtual reality (VR) offers new possibilities for learning, specifically for training individuals to perform physical movements such as physical therapy and exercise. The current article examines two aspects of VR that uniquely contribute to media interactivity: the ability to capture and review physical behaviour and the ability to see one's avatar rendered in real time from third person points of view. In two studies, we utilised a state-of-the-art, image-based tele-immersive system, capable of tracking and rendering many degrees of freedom of human motion in real time. In Experiment 1, participants learned better in VR than in a video learning condition according to self-report measures, and the cause of the advantage was seeing one's avatar stereoscopically in the third person. In Experiment 2, we added a virtual mirror in the learning environment to further leverage the ability to see oneself from novel angles in real time. Participants learned better in VR than in video according to objective performance measures. Implications for learning via interactive digital media are discussed.


The interesting idea here to me is the possibility of understanding how the movements are better encoded due to visual and proprioceptive feedback.  The question then, is this a two way mechanism?  If the same stimuli are presented, will it bring back better memory.  In addition, is it a movement encoding.  Can the encoding be accessed better by an expert.  Here they are novices in training, what happens if the person already knows the moves, but cannot explain them.  Can they explain them better if they have an immersive 3D view of their actions?  No brainer, it should work in this case clearly.  The question is, will it work as well if the visualisation is not the user of the tool at that moment in time.

They use the term "Sea of Cameras," would have thought a forest would be more apt. :-)

Experiment 1 

They rate the VR learning experience more positively.  Found the VR trainer to be more credible.

Experiment 2

VR version of learning system outperformed the video version, with significant results.

Interesting Quote:

"In fact, there is ample research dedicated to the discordance among self report measures and behavioural measures when measuring behaviour in virtual reality (Bailenson et al., 2004, Bailenson,
Swinth, et al., 2005;  Slater, 2005), concluding that neither self-report nor behavioural measures are sufficient, and that only by examining a host of measures can one assess virtual behaviour"

Shows that we need to use repeated versions of both behavioural and subjective to obtain insights into the effectiveness of such VR interfaces.  Need to keep this in mind for future experiments.

The image reproduction methods used in the paper are poor (think Kinect image level) so the quality of the images in the Tai Chi lessons may have had an effects on results.  Also, they had to look forward to compare themselves in the VR case; a cave or HMD might be better in this case due to a universal viewpoint capability.  Using an Oculus might introduce better results due to ego centre being situated in the training space.


Bailenson, J. N., Aharoni, E., Beall, A. C., Guadagno, R. E., Dimov, A., & Blascovich,
J. (2004). Comparing behavioral and self-report measures of embodied agents’
social presence in immersive virtual environments. Proceedings of the 7th Annual
International Workshop on PRESENCE, October 13–15, Valencia, Spain.