December 7, 2022;
28th ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and
Technology (VRST 2022), the SFB-TRR 161 publication "Walk This Beam: Impact of Different
Balance Assistance Strategies and Height Exposure on Performance and Physiological Arousal in VR"
won the Best Paper Award. Authors of the paper are Dennis Dietz, Carl Oechsner, Changkun Ou,
Francesco Chiossi (C06), Fabio Sarto, Sven Mayer (C06), and Andreas Butz.
ACM VRST 2022 was held as a hybrid conference in virtual and Tsukuba International Congress
Center, Tsukuba, Japan from November 29 - December 1, 2022. It is a premier international
symposium for the presentation of new research results, systems, and techniques among researchers
and developers on augmented, virtual and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR, XR for short) software and
technology. VRST brings together the main international research groups working on XR, along with
many of the world’s leading companies that provide or utilize XR systems.
Dynamic balance is an essential skill for the human upright gait; therefore, regular balance
training can improve postural control and reduce the risk of injury. Even slight variations in
walking conditions like height or ground conditions can significantly impact walking performance.
Virtual reality is used as a helpful tool to simulate such challenging situations. However, there
is no agreement on design strategies for balance training in virtual reality under stressful
environmental conditions such as height exposure. We investigate how two different training
strategies, imitation learning, and gamified learning, can help dynamic balance control performance
across different stress conditions. Moreover, we evaluate the stress response as indexed by
peripheral physiological measures of stress, perceived workload, and user experience. Both
approaches were tested against a baseline of no instructions and against each other. Thereby, we
show that a learning-by-imitation approach immediately helps dynamic balance control, decreases
stress, improves attention focus, and diminishes perceived workload. A gamified approach can lead
to users being overwhelmed by the additional task. Finally, we discuss how our approaches could be
adapted for balance training and applied to injury rehabilitation and prevention.
Link to publication