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Academic Research on depth perception in VR

13-virtualrealiIn 2015, Fulvio found that people were flunking her simple test of three-dimensional perception using a flat screen and standard 3D movie glasses. They were not good at discerning which direction a target was moving.

"Most importantly, they confused whether the object was coming toward them or going away from them," she says. "It was a surprising finding. Nobody believed it, because it's not something that happens often in the real world. You'd get hurt."

What Fulvio and Rokers found was that when most people put on a , they still treat what they see like it's happening on any run-of-the-mill TV screen.

"There's no depth to a computer screen. There are no binocular cues. Close one eye, close the other eye, nothing changes," says Rokers, whose work was funded by Google. "If you take that expectation into a VR headset, where you do have binocular cues, you somehow just don't use them."

The visual feedback nearly doubled success rates.

When she turned off the VR system's head tracking, taking away the effects of players' head movements and making them passive viewers, they were bad again. When she gave a little of that freedom back—restoring the system's response to head movements, but making the virtual world shifts lag behind players by as much as half a second—they were still bad.

The results—that tiny movements and typical binocular cues of motion are there for the taking in virtual reality, but that most people only use them if they are actively shown how VR differs from a flat computer screen—should help virtual reality creators improve uptake of their products.

Rokers says showing the effects of teaching people to use cues to three-dimensional motion that they are otherwise ignoring may ultimately help refine treatment for vision disorders such as blind spots or amblyopia ("lazy eye") in which the brain can be trained to compensate for perceptual limitations.

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