Visual task performance using a monocular see-through head-mounted display (HMD) while walking

Terhi Mustonen*, Mikko Berg, Jyrki Kaistinen, Takashi Kawai, Jukka Häkkinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


A monocular see-through head-mounted display (HMD) allows the user to view displayed information while simultaneously interacting with the surrounding environment. This configuration lets people use HMDs while they are moving, such as while walking. However, sharing attention between the display and environment can compromise a person's performance in any ongoing task, and controlling one's gait may add further challenges. In this study, the authors investigated how the requirements of HMDadministered visual tasks altered users' performance while they were walking. Twenty-four university students completed 3 cognitive tasks (high- and low-working memory load, visual vigilance) on an HMD while seated and while simultaneously performing a paced walking task in a controlled environment. The results show that paced walking worsened performance (d=, reaction time) in all HMD-administered tasks, but visual vigilance deteriorated more than memory performance. The HMD-administered tasks also worsened walking performance (speed, path overruns) in a manner that varied according to the overall demands of the task. These results suggest that people's ability to process information displayed on an HMD may worsen while they are in motion. Furthermore, the use of an HMD can critically alter a person's natural performance, such as their ability to guide and control their gait. In particular, visual tasks that involve constant monitoring of the HMD should be avoided. These findings highlight the need for careful consideration of the type and difficulty of information that can be presented through HMDs while still letting the user achieve an acceptable overall level of performance in various contexts of use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-344
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Dec


  • Attention
  • Dual-task interference
  • Hmd
  • Postural control
  • Vigilance
  • Visual perception
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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