The Influence of Virtual World Interactions toward Driving Real World Behaviors

  • Hari Thiruvengada
  • Paul Derby
  • Wendy Foslien
  • John Beane
  • Anand Tharanathan
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6774)


In the recent years, virtual worlds have gained wide spread popularity and acceptance in a variety of application domains including training, education, social networking, and conceptual demonstrations. This is largely due to their ability to support modeling of fully textured high-resolution real world objects, to provide a compelling user experience, and to offer novel, rich and exploratory interactions to the user. However, the impact of familiarity with the real world domain and objects on user behavior is still unclear. In this study, we discuss the findings from a pilot study on a virtual world facility tour that was based on a real world facility. The objectives of the tour were threefold. First, we sought to understand the feasibility of using a virtual tour in lieu of the actual real world tour. Second, the tour was used as an educational tool to demonstrate several sustainable or efficient energy initiatives to the facility occupants. Specifically, the virtual tour consisted of an interactive energy dashboard, a low voltage LED based lighting demonstration, an illustration of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment operations during day and night, and renewable energy sources within the facility. Third, we sought to understand the impact of the tour on participants’ future behaviors and attitudes toward sustainable energy. In order to address these overarching objectives, user feedback was collected using a survey after the users participated in the tour. We administered the survey to both occupants and nonoccupants of the facility to also understand the impact of familiarity on their behaviors. Users who were familiar with the facility were optimistic about their perception of learning how to navigate around the virtual replica than those who were not familiar. Our preliminary findings from the survey indicate that virtual worlds can have a positive impact on the users’ behavior. Overall, we found that users’ engagement during the virtual tour could contribute to learning and the development of lasting positive behaviors within virtual world, which can, in turn, translate into real world behaviors.


Virtual Worlds Experiential Learning Human-in-the-loop simulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hari Thiruvengada
    • 1
  • Paul Derby
    • 1
  • Wendy Foslien
    • 1
  • John Beane
    • 1
  • Anand Tharanathan
    • 1
  1. 1.Honeywell (ACS) Advanced Technology LabsGolden ValleyUSA

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