Koenderink J J, van Doorn A J, Lappin J S, 2000, "Direct measurement of the curvature of visual space" Perception 29(1) 69 – 79
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Direct measurement of the curvature of visual space
Jan J Koenderink, Andrea J van Doorn, Joseph S Lappin
Received 25 March 1999, in revised form 23 August 1999
Abstract. We consider the horizontal plane at eye height, that is all objects seen at the horizon. Although this plane visually degenerates into a line in the visual field, the 'depth' dimension nevertheless gives it a two-dimensional structure. We address the problem of intrinsic curvature of this plane. The classical geometric method is based on Gauss's original definition: The angular excess in a triangle equals the integral curvature over the area of the triangle. Angles were directly measured by a novel method of exocentric pointing. Experiments were performed outside, in the natural environment, under natural viewing conditions. The observers were instructed not to move from a set location and to maintain eye height, but were otherwise free to perform eye, head, and body movements. We measured the angular excess for equilateral triangles with sides of 2 - 20 m, the vantage position at the barycenter. We found angular excesses and deficits of up to 30°. From these data we constructed the metric. The curvature changes from elliptic in near space to hyperbolic in far space. At very large distances the plane becomes parabolic.
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