UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

It’s over there : can intelligent virtual agents point as accurately as humans? Wu, Fan


To support effective pointing interactions with an intelligent virtual agent (IVA), the first question to answer is how accurately users can interpret the direction of IVAs' pointing. In this thesis, we designed an IVA and investigated its capability to point to the real world as accurately as a real person. We used a spherical Fish Tank Virtual Reality (FTVR) display as it provides effective 3D depth cues and is situated in real-world coordinates, allowing IVAs to point to the real world. We first conducted an experiment to determine the pointing cue, a fundamental design factor of our IVA. Specifically, we evaluated the effect of head and hand cues on users' perception of the IVA's pointing. The findings provide design guidelines for selecting pointing cues in virtual environments. Following the guideline, we further determined our IVA's other design factors, including appearance, subtleties on how it points, with rationales elaborated. Using our designed IVA, we conducted an experiment to investigate the difference between the IVA and natural human pointing, measured by users' accuracy of interpreting the pointing to a physical location. Results show that participants can interpret the IVA's pointing to a physical location more accurately than the real person's pointing. Specifically, the IVA outperformed the real person in the vertical dimension (5.2% less error) and yielded the same level of accuracy horizontally. Our IVA design mitigated the pointing ambiguity due to the eye-fingertip alignment commonly found in human pointing, which may account for the IVA's higher pointing accuracy. Thus, our findings provide design guidelines for visual representations of IVAs with pointing gestures.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International