Spatial Knowledge Acquisition in Virtual and Physical Reality: A Comparative Evaluation

Diego Monteiro, Xian Wang, Hai Ning Liang, Yiyu Cai

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingConference Proceedingpeer-review


Virtual Reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMDs) have been studied widely as tools for the most diverse kinds of training activities. One particular kind that is the basis for many real-world applications is spatial knowledge acquisition and navigation. For example, knowing well by heart escape routes can be an important factor for firefighters and soldiers. Prior research on how well knowledge acquired in virtual worlds translates to the real, physical one has had mixed results, with some suggesting spatial learning in VR is akin to using a regular 2D display. However, VR HMDs have evolved drastically in the last decade, and little is known about how spatial training skills in a simulated environment using up-to-date VR HMDs compare to training in the real world. In this paper, we investigate how people trained in a VR maze compare against those trained in a physical maze in terms of recall of the position of items inside the environment. While our results did not find significant differences in time performance for people who experienced the physical and those who trained in VR, other behavioral factors were different.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2021 IEEE 7th International Conference on Virtual Reality, ICVR 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781665423090
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021
Event7th IEEE International Conference on Virtual Reality, ICVR 2021 - Foshan, China
Duration: 20 May 202122 May 2021

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, ICVR
ISSN (Electronic)2331-9569


Conference7th IEEE International Conference on Virtual Reality, ICVR 2021


  • navigation
  • spatial memory
  • training
  • user study
  • virtual reality

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