PhD defence by Thomas van Gemert

Portrait of Thomas


Whole-body Movement in Virtual Reality: Creating Better Experiences through Walking and Maneuvering


Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that can immerse a user in a virtual world to the point where they feel like they are really there and the things they perceive are really happening. Key to this experience is the ability to move around and interact with the virtual world. In real life, everyday movements like walking or maneuvering are easy, ubiquitous, and often enjoyable. However, using such movements in virtual reality is tricky, restrictive, and frustrating. Designing good movement experiences in virtual reality is not trivial: It is not clear how we can study virtual experiences, how movement affects the experience, and what quality aspects are important.

This thesis presents five research papers addressing this problem by demonstrating new and improved ways to apply methods to study virtual reality experiences. This work focuses on walking and maneuvering as whole-body movement: It investigates how movement affects various essential quality characteristics of virtual reality experiences, from sense of presence to VR sickness.

The included papers study the possibility of movement in VR while lying down, how the limits of one’s physical environment affect spatial presence in VR, how walking in VR causes VR sickness, how transfer function optimization can enable walking faster and farther in VR, and how virtual doorways can cause forgetting in VR.

In conclusion, the thesis provides methods to study how whole-body movement affects the virtual experience. By applying these methods, we gain a more complete and detailed understanding of the quality aspects of virtual reality experiences. These contributions enable us, as researchers and designers, to create better virtual experiences for the future.


Associate Professor Joanna Bergström, Department of Computer Science, UCPH

Assessment Committee

Associate Professor Mark Schram Christensen, Department of Psychology, UCPH
Professor Stefania Serafin, Aalborg University Copenhagen
Professor Stephen Brewster, University of Glasgow


Tenure Track Assistant Professor Valkyrie Savage, Department of Computer Science, UCPH

For an electronic copy of the thesis, please visit the PhD Programme page