VR Bridges: An Approach to Simulating Uneven Surfaces in VR

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Abstract

Virtual reality (VR) promises boundless potential for experiences. Yet, due to technical restrictions, current VR experiences are often limited in many ways and incomparable to their real-world counterparts. Walkable smooth uneven surfaces are inherent to reality but lacking in VR. At the same time, VR enables the alteration and manipulation of perception, o˙ering tools for reshaping the experience. In this thesis, we explore the possibility of simulating walkable smooth uneven surfaces in VR via a multi-sensory stimulation approach. We examine human height and slant perception and incorporate our findings into a multi-modal approach by combining visual manipulations, haptic and vibrotactile stimuli. Our approach is realized by constructing physical bridge props and creating a complex software application to introduce multi-sensory stimuli to the user. The simulation is evaluated in two user studies, each focusing on one of two di˙erently shaped physical bridge props. In the studies, we evaluate the feasibility of a flat and an upward curved prop for the simulation of di˙erent virtual surface heights. The data collected during the studies is subjected to a qualitative and quantitative analysis. Our results suggest that the use of a curved prop enables the convincing simulation of significantly higher uneven surfaces than the actual height of the prop. The haptic feedback of the curved surface and the proprioceptive cues of actual vertical traversal facilitate user provided height and slant estimations to be closer to the values suggested by the visual cues. The use of a flat prop is less realistic and leads to height and slant underestimations, despite the simulated visual height and slant cues. However, a flat surface might be still used to simulate indentations and protrusions with smaller height di˙erences.

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BibTeX

@mastersthesis{Kovacs_2020,
  title =      "VR Bridges: An Approach to Simulating Uneven Surfaces in VR",
  author =     "Balint-Istvan Kovacs",
  year =       "2020",
  abstract =   "Virtual reality (VR) promises boundless potential for
               experiences. Yet, due to technical restrictions, current VR
               experiences are often limited in many ways and incomparable
               to their real-world counterparts. Walkable smooth uneven
               surfaces are inherent to reality but lacking in VR. At the
               same time, VR enables the alteration and manipulation of
               perception, o˙ering tools for reshaping the experience. In
               this thesis, we explore the possibility of simulating
               walkable smooth uneven surfaces in VR via a multi-sensory
               stimulation approach. We examine human height and slant
               perception and incorporate our findings into a multi-modal
               approach by combining visual manipulations, haptic and
               vibrotactile stimuli. Our approach is realized by
               constructing physical bridge props and creating a complex
               software application to introduce multi-sensory stimuli to
               the user. The simulation is evaluated in two user studies,
               each focusing on one of two di˙erently shaped physical
               bridge props. In the studies, we evaluate the feasibility of
               a flat and an upward curved prop for the simulation of
               di˙erent virtual surface heights. The data collected during
               the studies is subjected to a qualitative and quantitative
               analysis. Our results suggest that the use of a curved prop
               enables the convincing simulation of significantly higher
               uneven surfaces than the actual height of the prop. The
               haptic feedback of the curved surface and the proprioceptive
               cues of actual vertical traversal facilitate user provided
               height and slant estimations to be closer to the values
               suggested by the visual cues. The use of a flat prop is less
               realistic and leads to height and slant underestimations,
               despite the simulated visual height and slant cues. However,
               a flat surface might be still used to simulate indentations
               and protrusions with smaller height di˙erences.",
  month =      apr,
  address =    "Favoritenstrasse 9-11/E193-02, A-1040 Vienna, Austria",
  school =     "Research Unit of Computer Graphics, Institute of Visual
               Computing and Human-Centered Technology, Faculty of
               Informatics, TU Wien",
  URL =        "https://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/research/publications/2020/Kovacs_2020/",
}