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Open AccessArticle

The Study of Walking, Walkability and Wellbeing in Immersive Virtual Environments

1
Department of Geography and the Human Environment, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel
2
Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190401, Israel
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 364; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020364
Received: 25 November 2020 / Revised: 22 December 2020 / Accepted: 31 December 2020 / Published: 6 January 2021
Recent approaches in the research on walkable environments and wellbeing go beyond correlational analysis to consider the specific characteristics of individuals and their interaction with the immediate environment. Accordingly, a need has been accentuated for new human-centered methods to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying environmental effects on walking and consequently on wellbeing. Immersive virtual environments (IVEs) were suggested as a potential method that can advance this type of research as they offer a unique combination between controlled experimental environments that allow drawing causal conclusions and a high level of environmental realism that supports ecological validity. The current study pilot tested a walking simulator with additional sensor technologies, including biosensors, eye tracking and gait sensors. Results found IVEs to facilitate extremely high tempo-spatial-resolution measurement of physical walking parameters (e.g., speed, number of gaits) along with walking experience and wellbeing (e.g., electrodermal activity, heartrate). This level of resolution is useful in linking specific environmental stimuli to the psychophysiological and behavioral reactions, which cannot be obtained in real-world and self-report research designs. A set of guidelines for implementing IVE technology for research is suggested in order to standardize its use and allow new researchers to engage with this emerging field of research. View Full-Text
Keywords: walkability; immersive virtual environment; VR; walking simulator; wellbeing; eye tracking; gait analysis; electrodermal activity; heart rate; mobility walkability; immersive virtual environment; VR; walking simulator; wellbeing; eye tracking; gait analysis; electrodermal activity; heart rate; mobility
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MDPI and ACS Style

Birenboim, A.; Ben-Nun Bloom, P.; Levit, H.; Omer, I. The Study of Walking, Walkability and Wellbeing in Immersive Virtual Environments. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 364. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020364

AMA Style

Birenboim A, Ben-Nun Bloom P, Levit H, Omer I. The Study of Walking, Walkability and Wellbeing in Immersive Virtual Environments. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(2):364. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020364

Chicago/Turabian Style

Birenboim, Amit; Ben-Nun Bloom, Pazit; Levit, Hila; Omer, Itzhak. 2021. "The Study of Walking, Walkability and Wellbeing in Immersive Virtual Environments" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18, no. 2: 364. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020364

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