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 available.
Copyright: © Elsevier 2016. This is the author's version of the publication. The original publication is available at