Point-cloud avatars to improve spatial communication in immersive collaborative virtual environments

Abstract

Collaborative virtual environments allow remote users to work together in a shared 3D space. To take advantage of the possibilities offered by such systems, their design must allow the users to interact and communicate efficiently. One open question in this field concerns the avatar fidelity of remote partners. This can impact communication between the remote users, more particularly when performing collaborative spatial tasks. In this paper, we present an experimental study comparing the effects of two partner’s avatars on collaboration during spatial tasks. The first avatar was based on a 2.5D streamed point-cloud and the second avatar was based on a 3D preconstructed avatar replicating the remote user movements. These avatars differ in their fidelity levels described through two components: visual and kinematic fidelity. The collaborative performance was evaluated through the efficacy of completing two spatial communication tasks, a pointing task and spatial guidance task. The results indicate that the streamed point-cloud avatar permitted a significant improvement of the collaborative performance for both tasks. The subjective evaluation suggests that these differences in performance can mainly be attributed to the higher kinematic fidelity of this representation as compared with the 3D preconstructed avatar representation. We conclude that, when designing spatial collaborative virtual environments, it is important to reach a high kinematic fidelity of the partner’s representation while a moderate visual fidelity of this representation can suffice.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank all the volunteers that participated to the experimental study.

Funding

This work was supported by the Paris Ile-de-France Region (grant no. 17002647). AR received a Ph.D. grant from the University of Evry. We also acknowledge support from Genopole.

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Authors

Contributions

Guillaume Gamelin, Amine Chellali, and Aylen Ricca contributed to the design of the application and the user study; Guillaume Gamelin, Amine Chellali, and Samia Cheikh conducted the literature review; Guillaume Gamelin developed the CVE prototype and integrated all software/hardware components; Cedric Dumas developed the point-cloud streaming server; Amine Chellali and Samia Cheikh performed the data analysis; and Guillaume Gamelin and Amine Chellali wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to manuscript revision, read, and approved the submitted version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amine Chellali.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics statement

The user study was approved by the University of Paris Saclay Ethics Committee (#CER-Paris-Saclay-2018-024). An informed written consent was also obtained from all the subjects involved in this study prior to their participation.

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Gamelin, G., Chellali, A., Cheikh, S. et al. Point-cloud avatars to improve spatial communication in immersive collaborative virtual environments. Pers Ubiquit Comput (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00779-020-01431-1

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Keywords

  • Partner’s avatar
  • Kinematic fidelity
  • Collaborative virtual environments
  • Spatial communication
  • Immersive virtual reality