The equation of perception: Assessing user perception in virtual environments

The perception of a particular virtual environment can be described as a complex situation, as much as in real-life situations, since it depends on numerous sensing, assembling, and interpreting processes concerning a particular surrounding. Fundamental factors that may create a perceptual significance in various aspects of the real scene are defined as the experience, knowledge, skills of a particular user, as well as the particular activity, in which the user is involved.

By its very nature, human perception is contingent upon the inputs collected by the sensory organs from the external world (Schacter et al., 2011, p.164), which have evolved during the evolutionary path according to the ever-altering exigences of homo sapiens, alongside the cognitive interpretation processes (Chalmers et al., 2009). Therefore, it is a common practice to attribute a special place to sensory information when it comes to examining human perception in a particular environment.

Despite the fact that it is inconceivable to reduce the whole perceptual process of a particular surrounding into the information collected by each sensory organ, it can still provide us with a vision regarding how much that particular environment is likely to be genuinely perceived by laying its sensory outputs bare. This consideration, on the contrary to real-world scenarios, can be applied to virtual scenarios effortlessly. In this context, Chalmers & Ferko (2010) suggested a simple equation to acquire a probabilistic estimation of the rate of perception in a specific virtual environment (see Figure).

Perception The Equation of Perception which aims to demonstrate a probabilistic meaning regarding the perceptual threshold of a particular environment. Adapted from Real Virtuality: A step change from virtual reality, by Chalmers, A. & Ferko, A., 2010.

This proposed equation doesn’t stand for an equation that has been formulated to give precise integer results. On the contrary, the solution merely aims to provide a piece of semantic information regarding a particular environment’s perceptual threshold. Chalmers et al. (2009) proposed this equation for indicating perceptual thresholds in one specific virtual environment, however, they don’t specifically propose any information in which way they deem it fit to be solved.

We suggest that, in case a whole particular virtual environment was taken into account as a summation of sensory elements utilized in a particular design file, it would be possible to calculate the exact proportions as weightings for each of the sensory outputs (assets) utilized within the integral of the entire project. This very calculation can be conducted by adopting a particular asset-counting technique, as well as a runtime analysis processed on the virtual environment application file to detect prompt messages/logs while the application runs. Through the equation of perception with calculated values, we aim to acquire a probabilistic view in terms of the overall perceptual elements that a specific virtual environment design presents to the end-user. We assert that the implementation of this equation may contribute to the prospective research endeavors on user perception in virtual environments from the point of deducing how likely a particular virtual scenario is to be perceived by a user.

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