UrbanRama: Navigating Cities in Virtual Reality

Shaoyu Chen, Fabio Miranda, Nivan Ferreira, Marcos Lage, Harish Doraiswamy, Corinne Brenner, Connor Defanti, Michael Koutsoubis, Luc Wilson, Ken Perlin, Claudio Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exploring large virtual environments, such as cities, is a central task in several domains, such as gaming and urban planning. VR systems can greatly help this task by providing an immersive experience; however, a common issue with viewing and navigating a city in the traditional sense is that users can either obtain a local or a global view, but not both at the same time, requiring them to continuously switch between perspectives, losing context and distracting them from their analysis. In this article, our goal is to allow users to navigate to points of interest without changing perspectives. To accomplish this, we design an intuitive navigation interface that takes advantage of the strong sense of spatial presence provided by VR. We supplement this interface with a perspective that warps the environment, called UrbanRama, based on a cylindrical projection, providing a mix of local and global views. The design of this interface was performed as an iterative process in collaboration with architects and urban planners. We conducted a qualitative and a quantitative pilot user study to evaluate UrbanRama and the results indicate the effectiveness of our system in reducing perspective changes, while ensuring that the warping doesn't affect distance and orientation perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4685-4699
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


  • VR navigation
  • Virtual reality
  • cylindrical deformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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