Understanding how people explore immersive virtual environments is crucial for many applications, such as designing virtual reality (VR) content, developing new compression algorithms, or learning computational models of saliency or visual attention. Whereas a body of recent work has focused on modeling saliency in desktop viewing conditions, VR is very different from these conditions in that viewing behavior is governed by stereoscopic vision and by the complex interaction of head orientation, gaze, and other kinematic constraints. To further our understanding of viewing behavior and saliency in VR, we capture and analyze gaze and head orientation data of 169 users exploring stereoscopic, static omni-directional panoramas, for a total of 1980 head and gaze trajectories for three different viewing conditions. We provide a thorough analysis of our data, which leads to several important insights, such as the existence of a particular fixation bias, which we then use to adapt existing saliency predictors to immersive VR conditions. In addition, we explore other applications of our data and analysis, including automatic alignment of VR video cuts, panorama thumbnails, panorama video synopsis, and saliency-based compression.



@article{Sitzmann_TVCG_VR-saliency, author = {Vincent Sitzmann and Ana Serrano and Amy Pavel and Maneesh Agrawala and Diego Gutierrez and Belen Masia and Gordon Wetzstein}, title = {How do people explore virtual environments?}, journal = {IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics}, year = {2017}, }



The authors would like to thank Jaime Ruiz-Borau for support with experiments. This research has been partially funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant (project CHAMELEON), the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (projects TIN2016-78753- P, TIN2016- 79710-P, and TIN2014-61696-EXP), and the NSF/Intel Partnership on Visual and Experiential Computing (NSF IIS 1539120). Ana Serrano was supported by an FPI grant from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Gordon Wetzstein was supported by a Terman Faculty Fellowship and an Okawa Research Grant. We thank the following artists, photographers, and studios who generously contributed their omni-directional stereo panoramas for this study: Dabarti CGI Studio, Attu Studio, Estudio Eter, White Crow Studios, Steelblue, Blackhaus Studio, immortal-arts, Chaos Group, Felix Dodd, Kevin Margo, Aldo Garcia, Bertrand Benoit, Jason Buchheim, Prof. Robert Kooima, Tom Isaksen (Charakter Ink.), Victor Abramovskiy (