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Haptic Perception in Virtual Environments Using Proxy Objects: A Usability Study

  • Author / Creator
    Abdi Oskouie, Mina
  • Virtual Reality (VR) applications are getting progressively more popular in many disciplines. This is mainly due to (1) technological advancement in rendering images and sounds, and (2) immersive experience of VR which intensifies users' engagement leading to improved joy, sense of presence and success. Although VR creates a realistic experience by simulating visual and auditory sense, it ignores other human senses.The absence of haptic feedback in Virtual Environments (VE) can impair users' engagement. Our objective is to provide haptic feedback in VE using the most affordable method, proxy haptics. Proxies are physical objects which are aligned with virtual objects in a way that by touching the proxies, users see their virtual hand touching the virtual objects. So, the haptic feedback will be applied to users' hands by touching the proxies.Before using proxies to employ the human haptic sense in VE, we need to answer some fundamental questions about how this system works in VE. We have designed 3 experiments to find some answers to these questions. Our focus is primarily on the weight attributes.In Experiment 1, we asked users about their expectation of the weight of 3 everyday objects. Results show an acceptable range for the weight of each of these object. The variation in acceptable weights is not because of inaccuracy in human weight memory since we observed that giving users a chance to evaluate the replicas could not make their expectation more accurate. Weight-size illusion can persuade the users to perceive bigger object lighter than they are, but not under all circumstances.In the second experiment, we asked users to compare two weights. The majority of our participants were able to detect the differences correctly even when they were as low as 15% of the base weight (the base weights were between 100g and 130g). The results show more accuracy when the comparing weights are lighter.The last experiment was a usability test comparing using hand and the sense of touch with using VR controllers in a pointing task. Results show that providing haptic feedback can make the experience more believable but it cannot improve the perceived competence or ease of use. That's mainly because the hand tracking system we used was not accurate enough causing problems for users. With more accurate hand tracking the usability might be improved.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2019
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-bxk0-t112
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.