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VRML world as a navigational

interface

Helsinki Arena 2000 - a virtual city as a


navigational interface to different services

AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998
What is VRML
• VRML is an acronym for virtual reality modelling
language

VRML is neither virtual reality nor a modelling


language, instead it is:

• “3D HTML”, 3D graphics on the Internet


• simply a 3D interchange format

The final appearance of VRML graphics is


determined by a VRML browser
AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998
What is navigation
• Spatial metaphors are used to describe searching
information e.g. from a menu hierarchy or
hypertext, therefore the term ‘navigation’
PAGE DOWN

BACK FORWARD

PAGE UP

AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998
Navigation in a VRML world
mimics real world navigation
‘VRML world’ = a 3D environment built with VRML
•‘Walking’ or
•‘Flying’ in a VRML world

AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998
VRML world as a navigational interface
• Links:
– to other VRML worlds
– to HTML pages
– from HTML pages to VRML worlds
• Final appearance of the VRML file is determined
by the browser
• The navigational functions are determined by the
browser user interface
• Too much load on hardware makes navigation
difficult or impossible
• Design of the VRML world can further affect how
easy the world is to navigate
AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998
Spatial mnemonics
• Method of loci invented in ancient Greece:
– Remembering large number of items (e.g. parts of a
speech) in a correct order
– First, a series of locations is memorized, such as places
along a familiar walk
– Second, mental imagery is used to associate each of the
items in turn with a specific location
– Recalling the items by carrying out a ‘mental walk’
• A.R. Lurija, The mind of a mnemonist:
remembering items by associating them with the
streets of Moscow

AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998
Helsinki Arena 2000 - Virtual city as a
navigational interface to different
services
• VRML model of Helsinki
• Citizens of Helsinki can utilize their existing
knowledge about the structure of the city, their
existing ‘cognitive map’
Usability issues:
• VRML browsers offer many alternative ways to
navigate
– walking, flying, a viewpoint list
– browser interface can be complicated and
difficult for beginners
• Too much load on hardware makes VRML
browsing unusable, but too little details makes
buildings difficult to recognize
• Large individual differences in how easily citizens
of Helsinki can recognize places in a VRML model

AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998
Usability issues:
• Getting lost into an empty space or inside a
building
– reversing with an undo button
– going back to a near by familiar viewpoint
• Determining the right avatar size
• In Helsinki Arena 2000 3D navigation is meant to
be used in combination with alternative
navigation methods, such as alphabetical lists,
search engines and especially 2D maps

AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998
Other aspects

• VRML worlds can be more entertaining than


traditional 2D web pages
• VRML model can be used for learning a route in
the real city, not just the other way around

AIMS Workshop
Heidelberg, 9-11 March 1998