Enhancing User Immersion and Virtual Presence in Interactive Multiuser Virtual Environments through the Development and Integration of a Gesture-Centric Natural User Interface Developed from Existing Virtual Reality Technologies
Immersion, referring to the level of physical or psychological submergence of a user within a virtual space relative to that user’s consciousness of the real-world environment, has predominantly been established as an indispensable part of interactive media designs. This is most prevalent in Virtual Reality (VR) platforms, as their applications are typically reliant on user believability. With a wide variation of possible methodologies for the enhancement of this feature, the collectively recognised paradigm lies on the emphasis of naturalism in the design of the virtual system .
Though widely used by some specialised VR applications  such concepts are yet to be fully explored in the more contemporary virtual systems such as Social Immersive Virtual Environment (SIVE).
The focus of the study described in this paper are the techniques being developed to enhance user immersion, virtual presence and co-presence in a SIVE application, through the design and integration of a VR-based Natural User Interface (NUI) that allows users to naturally and intuitively interact with the virtual environment and other networked users through the utilisation of full body gesture controls. These gestural controls prioritise the emulation of the alternate equivalent of such real-wold interactions, whilst also providing an interface for the seamless and unobtrusive translation of the user’s real-world physical state into the virtual environment through intuitive user to virtual avatar proprioceptive coordination.
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