The application of virtual reality in a driving simulation is not novel, yet little is known about the use of this technology by senior populations. The effects of age, gender, control device (joystick or handlebar), and task type on wayfinding proficiency using a virtual reality (VR) driving simulation were explored. The driving experiment model involved 96 randomly recruited participants, namely, 48 young people and 48 seniors (split evenly by gender in each group). Experiment results and statistical analyses indicated that, in a VR driving scenario, task type significantly affected VR driving performance. Navigational scores were significantly higher for the straight (easy/symmetrical straight route) task than those for the curved (difficult/asymmetrical curved route) task. The aging effect was the main reason for the significant and interacting effects of gender and control device. Interactions between age and gender difference indicated that the young group exhibited better wayfinding performance than the senior group did, and in the young group, males had better performance than that of females. Similarly, interactions between age and control device indicated that the handlebar control-device type resulted in better performance than the joystick device did in the young group, but no difference was found in the senior group due to age or learning effects. Findings provide an understanding of the evaluation of the interface designs of navigational-support systems, taking into consideration any effects of age, gender, control device, and task type within three-dimensional VR games and driving systems. With a VR driving simulator, seniors can test-drive inaccessible products such as electric bicycles or cars by using a computer at home.
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