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Issue No. 03 - May/June (2009 vol. 29)
ISSN: 0272-1716
pp: 76-84
Mel Slater , University of Barcelona
Pankaj Khanna , University College London
Jesper Mortensen , Geomerics
Insu Yu , University College London
Does greater visual realism induce greater participant presence in immersive virtual environments (VE)? Presence refers to how realistically participants respond to the environment as well as their subjective sense of being in the place depicted by the VE. Thirty-three people were exposed for three minutes to a virtual environment depicting a precipice using a head-tracked head-mounted display system. Seventeen of them saw the environment rendered with real-time recursive ray tracing (RT) that included shadows and reflections of their virtual body, and the remainder experienced the same environment rendered with ray casting (RC), which did not include shadows and reflections. Participants completed a presence questionnaire immediately after their experience, and physiological responses (skin conductance and electrocardiogram) were recorded throughout. Results show that subjective presence was higher for the RT environment than for the RC one and that higher stress was induced in the RT environment compared to the RC one.
Virtual environments, presence, visual realism, real-time ray tracing, shadows, reflections, virtual body, avatar.

I. Yu, M. Slater, J. Mortensen and P. Khanna, "Visual Realism Enhances Realistic Response in an Immersive Virtual Environment," in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, vol. 29, no. , pp. 76-84, 2009.
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