We analyzed the design space of group navigation tasks in distributed virtual environments and present a framework consisting of techniques to form groups, distribute responsibilities, navigate together, and eventually split up again. To improve joint navigation, our work focused on an extension of the Multi-Ray Jumping technique that allows adjusting the spatial formation of two distributed users as part of the target specification process. The results of a quantitative user study showed that these adjustments lead to significant improvements in joint two-user travel, which is evidenced by more efficient travel sequences and lower task loads imposed on the navigator and the passenger. In a qualitative expert review involving all four stages of group navigation, we confirmed the effective and efficient use of our technique in a more realistic use-case scenario and concluded that remote collaboration benefits from fluent transitions between individual and group navigation.
This work was presented at the 2020 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), originally planned to take place in Atlanta, GA, USA. Due to the cancellation of the on-site event, the talk was given in virtual reality (Mozilla Hubs). The presentation was honored with the Best VR-in-VR Presentation Award of the conference.