It has been shown in numerous research studies that people tend to underestimate distances while wearing head-mounted displays (HMDs). We investigated various possible factors affecting the perception of distance is HMDs through multiple studies. Many contributing factors has been identified by researchers in the past decades, however, further investigation is required to provide a better understanding of this problem. In order to find a baseline for distance underestimation, we performed a study to compare the distance perception in real world versus a fake headset versus a see-through HMD. Users underestimated distances while wearing the fake headset or the see-through HMD. The fake headset and see-through HMD had similar result, while they had significant difference with the real-world results. Since the fake headset and the HMD had similar underestimation results, we decided to focus on the FOV of the headset which was a common factor between these two conditions. To understand the effects of FOV on the perception of distance in a virtual environment we performed a study through a blind-throwing task. FOVs at three different diagonal angles, 60°, 110° and 200° were compared with each other. The results showed people underestimate the distances more in restricted FOVs. As this study was performed using static 360° images of a single environment, we decided to see if the results can be extended to various 3D environments. A mixed-design study to compare the effect of horizontal FOV and vertical FOV on egocentric distance perception in four different realistic VEs was performed. The results indicated more accurate distance judgement with larger horizontal FOV with no significant effect of vertical FOV. More accurate distance judgement in indoor VEs compared to outdoor VEs was observed. Also, participants judged distances more accurately in cluttered environments versus uncluttered environments. These results highlights the importance of the environment in distance-critical VR applications and also shows that wider horizontal FOV should be considered for an improved distance judgment.


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Graduation Date





Laviola II, Joseph


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Computer Science

Degree Program

Computer Science


CFE0009224; DP0026827





Release Date

August 2022

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)