Guided by gaze: Prioritization strategy when navigating through a virtual crowd can be assessed through gaze activity

Laurentius Meerhoff 1 Julien Bruneau 2 Vu Alexandre 2 Anne-Hélène Olivier 1, 3 Julien Pettré 2
1 MIMETIC - Analysis-Synthesis Approach for Virtual Human Simulation
UR2 - Université de Rennes 2, Inria Rennes – Bretagne Atlantique , IRISA-D6 - MEDIA ET INTERACTIONS
2 RAINBOW - Sensor-based and interactive robotics
Inria Rennes – Bretagne Atlantique , IRISA-D5 - SIGNAUX ET IMAGES NUMÉRIQUES, ROBOTIQUE
Abstract : Modelling crowd behavior is essential for the management of mass events and pedestrian traffic. Current microscopic approaches consider the individual's behavior to predict the effect of individual actions in local interactions on the collective scale of the crowd motion. Recent developments in the use of virtual reality as an experimental tool have offered an opportunity to extend the understanding of these interactions in controlled and repeatable settings. Nevertheless, based on kinematics alone, it remains difficult to tease out how these interactions unfold. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that gaze activity provides additional information about pedestrian interactions. Using an eye tracker, we recorded the participant's gaze behavior whilst navigating through a virtual crowd. Results revealed that gaze was consistently attracted to virtual walkers with the smallest values of distance at closest approach (DCA) and time to closest approach (TtCA), indicating a higher risk of collision. Moreover, virtual walkers gazed upon before an avoidance maneuver was initiated had a high risk of collision and were typically avoided in the subsequent avoidance maneuver. We argue that humans navigate through crowds by selecting only few interactions and that gaze reveals how a walker prioritizes these interactions. Moreover, we pose that combining kinematic and gaze data provides new opportunities for studying how interactions are selected by pedestrians walking through crowded dynamic environments.
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Laurentius Meerhoff, Julien Bruneau, Vu Alexandre, Anne-Hélène Olivier, Julien Pettré. Guided by gaze: Prioritization strategy when navigating through a virtual crowd can be assessed through gaze activity. Acta Psychologica, Elsevier, 2018, 190, pp.248-257. ⟨10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.07.009⟩. ⟨hal-01876148⟩

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