Shall I describe it or shall I move closer? Verbal references and locomotion in VR collaborative search tasks.

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European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
Research in pointing-based communication within immersive collaborative virtual environments (ICVE) remains a compelling area of study. Previous studies explored techniques to improve accuracy and reduce errors when hand-pointing from a distance. In this study, we explore how users adapt their behaviour to cope with the lack of accuracy during pointing. In an ICVE where users can move (i.e., locomotion) when faced with a lack of laser pointers, pointing inaccuracy can be avoided by getting closer to the object of interest. Alternatively, collaborators can enrich the utterances with details to compensate for the lack of pointing precision. Inspired by previous CSCW remote desktop collaboration, we measure visual coordination, the implicitness of deixis’ utterances and the amount of locomotion. We design an experiment that compares the effects of the presence/absence of laser pointers across hard/easy-to-describe referents. Results show that when users face pointing inaccuracy, they prefer to move closer to the referent rather than enrich the verbal reference.