Viewpoint oscillation improves the perception of distance travelled in static observers but not during treadmill walking

  • Bossard Martin
  • Goulon Cedric
  • Mestre Daniel


Optic flow has been found to be a significant cue for static observers' perception of distance travelled. In previous research conducted in a large-scale immersive display (CAVE), adding viewpoint oscillations to a radial optic flow simulating forward self-motion was found to modulate this perception. In the present two experiments, we investigated (1) whether the improved distance travelled perceptions observed with an oscillating viewpoint in a CAVE were also obtained when the subjects were wearing a head mounted display (HMD, an Oculus Rift) and (2) whether the absence of viewpoint oscillations during treadmill walking was liable to affect the subjects' perception of self-motion. In Experiment 1, static observers performed a distance travelled estimation task while facing either a purely linear visual simulation of self-motion (in depth) or the same flow in addition to viewpoint oscillations based on the subjects' own head oscillations previously recorded during treadmill walking. Results show that the benefits of viewpoint oscillations observed in a CAVE persisted when the participants were wearing an HMD. In Experiment 2, participants had to carry out the same task while walking on a treadmill under two different visual conditions simulating self-motion in depth: the one with and the other without the visual consequences of their head translations. Results showed that viewpoint oscillations did not improve the accuracy of subjects' distance travelled estimations. A comparison between the two experiments showed that adding internal dynamic information about actual self-motion to visual information did not allow participants better estimates.