Unwinding Rotations Improves User Comfort with Immersive Telepresence Robots

Markku Suomalainen, Basak Sakcak, Adhi Widagdo, Juho Kalliokoski, Katherine J. Mimnaugh, Alexis P. Chambers, Timo Ojala, Steven M. LaValle

We propose unwinding the rotations experienced by the user of an immersive telepresence robot to improve comfort and reduce VR sickness of the user. By immersive telepresence we refer to a situation where a 360\textdegree~camera on top of a mobile robot is streaming video and audio into a head-mounted display worn by a remote user possibly far away. Thus, it enables the user to be present at the robot's location, look around by turning the head and communicate with people near the robot. By unwinding the rotations of the camera frame, the user's viewpoint is not changed when the robot rotates. The user can change her viewpoint only by physically rotating in her local setting; as visual rotation without the corresponding vestibular stimulation is a major source of VR sickness, physical rotation by the user is expected to reduce VR sickness. We implemented unwinding the rotations for a simulated robot traversing a virtual environment and ran a user study (N=34) comparing unwinding rotations to user's viewpoint turning when the robot turns. Our results show that the users found unwound rotations more preferable and comfortable and that it reduced their level of VR sickness. We also present further results about the users' path integration capabilities, viewing directions, and subjective observations of the robot's speed and distances to simulated people and objects.

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