ORCLSim: A System Architecture for Studying Bicyclist and Pedestrian Physiological Behavior Through Immersive Virtual Environments

by   Xiang Guo, et al.

Injuries and fatalities for vulnerable road users, especially bicyclists and pedestrians, are on the rise. To better inform design for vulnerable road users, we need to conduct more studies to evaluate how bicyclist and pedestrian behavior and physiological states change in different roadway designs and contextual settings. Previous research highlights the advantages of Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE) in conducting bicyclist and pedestrian studies. These environments do not put participants at risk of getting injured, are low-cost compared to on-road or naturalistic studies and allow researchers to fully control variables of interest. In this paper, we propose a framework ORCLSim, to support human sensing techniques within IVE to evaluate bicyclist and pedestrian physiological and behavioral changes in different contextual settings. To showcase this framework, we present two case studies where we collect and analyze pilot data from five participants' physiological and behavioral responses in an IVE setting, representing real-world roadway segments and traffic conditions. Results from these case studies indicate that physiological data is sensitive to road environment changes and real-time events, especially changes in heart rate and gaze behavior. Additionally, our preliminary data indicates participants may respond differently to various roadway settings (e.g., intersections with or without traffic signal). By analyzing these changes, we can identify how participants' stress levels and cognitive load is impacted by the simulated surrounding environment. The ORCLSim system architecture can be further utilized for future studies in users' behavioral and physiological responses in different virtual reality settings.


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