The Effects of Age, Gender, and Control Device in a Virtual-Reality Driving Simulation

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Wen-Te Chang

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Philosophy

Keywords: VR; aging effect; gender difference; control device; wayfinding strategy

The application of Virtual Reality in a driving simulation is not novel, yet little is known about the use of this technology by senior populations. The effects of age, sex, control device (joystick or handlebar), and task type on wayfinding proficiency using a virtual reality (VR) driving simulation were explored. The driving experimental model involved 96 randomly recruited participants, including 48 young people and 48 seniors (split evenly by gender in each group). The experimental results and statistical analyses indicate that in a VR driving scenario task type significantly affected VR driving performance. Navigational scores were significantly higher for the straight (easy) task than for the curved (difficult) task. The aging effect was the main reason for significant and interacting effects of sex and control device. It was found that interactions between age and sex difference indicated that the young group exhibited better wayfinding performance than the senior group, and in the young group males had better performance than females. Similarly, interactions between age and control device indicated that the handlebar control device type resulted in better performance than the joystick device in the young group, but no difference was found in the senior group due to age or learning effects. Findings provide an understanding of the evaluation of the interface designs of navigational support systems, taking into consideration any effects of age, sex, control device, and task type within three-dimensional VR games and driving systems. With a VR driving simulator, seniors can test drive inaccessible products, such as electric bicycles or cars, using a computer at home.

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