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analysis level that one should refer to in order to guarantee a valid transfer. Evidently,
we cannot be content with the fact that the user feels “at ease'' in the virtual world.
It is possible that the virtual world is defined in such a way (for example at the
level of the interfaces) that the observed behaviour of the user does not in any way
involve the skills required to carry out the task simulated under real conditions. In this
sense, we suggest that the analysis of the sensorimotor invariants involved in the task
that we are trying to simulate and their research at the level of the subject's behaviour
in a virtual reality situation can prove to be an “effective'' tool. This requires work,
before modelling of the virtual reality situation and analysis of the activity, on the
psycho-ergonomic sense of the term.
This brings us back to a concept of fidelity of the virtual environment with respect
to the real world. This concept has mainly been mentioned in the context of simulators
(Leplat, 1997; Burkhardt, 2002). Fidelity can be related to the physical properties of
the system with respect to the reference system, as well as to the characteristics of the
stimulations of the environment with respect to the reference system. This concept
is thus important. It goes past the concept of immersion, as it explicitly refers to
the real situation that we want to model and simulate. Although it is close to the
concept of presence, referring to the two “worlds'', we however think that fidelity
must be objective. This is certainly tinted with arbitrariness, to the extent that fidelity
(implicitly or explicitly) refers to the user, is this not only because the definition of
fidelity of a virtual environment is based on the state of the present knowledge about
the functioning of the human sensory-cognitive-motor system? It is precisely in this
sense that we think that it is necessary to retain the immersion/presence dialectic as a
conceptualisation tool of virtual reality, with fidelity intervening as an ancillary concept
that helps to design “applied'' virtual environments.
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Burdea, G. & Coiffet, P. (1994) Virtual reality technology . Wiley & Sons.
Burkhardt, J. (2002) Réalité virtuelle et ergonomie : Quelques apports réciproques. Le Travail
Humain , 66, 65-100.
Burkhardt, J.-M., Bardy, B. & Lourdeaux, D. (2003) Immersion, réalisme et présence dans la
conception et l'évaluation des environnements virtuels. Psychologie Française, numéro spécial
sur la psychologie ergonomique , 48, 35-42.
Burkhardt, J.-M., Lourdeaux, D. & Fuchs, P. (1999) Conception d'un système de RV pour la
formation des agents de conduite aux opérations en milieu ferroviaire. In: Actes des Journées
Réalité Virtuelle et Cognition . Paris. pp. 123-132.
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