Passive and Active Navigation of Virtual Environments vs. Traditional Printed Evacuation Maps: a Comparative Evaluation in the Aviation Domain
Authors:Burigat S., Chittaro L.
Published in:International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 87, March 2016, pp. 92-105.
Abstract:Printed maps are the most common tool to prepare people for emergency evacuation in contexts
such as public buildings or transportation. Unfortunately, they are poorly understood and often
ignored by people. Virtual environments (VEs) could be a more effective method to support
people in acquiring spatial knowledge about the real-world environment to evacuate. This paper
pursues three main goals. First, we propose a VE-based tool to support spatial knowledge acquisition for evacuation purposes, using aviation as a real-world domain in which such knowledge
is crucial for passengers safety. Second, we study in detail one of the VE design choices (active or passive navigation), comparing a version of our tool in which users navigate by actively
controlling their position with another version in which users are passively led along pre-defined
routes. Third, we contrast the two versions of the tool with the traditional, printed diagrammatic
map provided to passengers by airlines. Results of our study show that the VE-based approach
produces objectively better spatial knowledge when users are asked to pinpoint their assigned
position in the environment, and that active navigation produces a performance improvement
in a subsequent virtual evacuation. Moreover, the VE-based approach is perceived as more enjoyable, easier to comprehend and more effective than printed maps when active navigation is