The Role of Global and Local Landmarks in Virtual Environment Navigation
In visual navigation, landmarks can be used in a number of different ways. In this paper, we investigate the role of global and local landmarks in virtual environment navigation. We performed an experiment in a virtual environment called “Hexatown”, consisting of a regular hexagonal grid of streets and junctions. Each junction was identified by the presence of distinct local landmarks (buildings, phone box, and so on). Additionally, compass information or a global frame of reference was provided by global landmarks (hilltop, television tower, and city skyline). According to participants' movement decisions, egomotion was simulated, and displayed on a 180 deg. projection screen. Participants learned the route back and forth between two local landmarks. In the test phase, individual junctions were approached and the participant's movement decision was recorded. We performed two experiments involving landmark changes after learning. In the first, we used conflicting cues by transposing landmarks. In the second experiment, we reduced either local or global landmark information. Results show that both local and global landmarks are used in wayfinding decisions. However, different participants rely on different strategies. In the first experiment (cue conflict) for example, some of the participants used only local landmarks while others relied exclusively on global landmarks. Other participants used local landmarks at one location and global landmarks at the other. When removing one landmark type in the second experiment, the other type could be used by almost all participants, indicating that information about the neglected landmark type was present in memory.