skip to main content

Title: Blowing in the Wind: Increasing Copresence with a Virtual Human via Airflow Influence in Augmented Reality
In a social context where two or more interlocutors interact with each other in the same space, one’s sense of copresence with the others is an important factor for the quality of communication and engagement in the interaction. Although augmented reality (AR) technology enables the superposition of virtual humans (VHs) as interlocutors in the real world, the resulting sense of copresence is usually far lower than with a real human interlocutor. In this paper, we describe a human-subject study in which we explored and investigated the effects that subtle multi-modal interaction between the virtual environment and the real world, where a VH and human participants were co-located, can have on copresence. We compared two levels of gradually increased multi-modal interaction: (i) virtual objects being affected by real airflow as commonly experienced with fans in summer, and (ii) a VH showing awareness of this airflow. We chose airflow as one example of an environmental factor that can noticeably affect both the real and virtual worlds, and also cause subtle responses in interlocutors.We hypothesized that our two levels of treatment would increase the sense of being together with the VH gradually, i.e., participants would report higher copresence with airflow influence than without it, more » and the copresence would be even higher when the VH shows awareness of the airflow. The statistical analysis with the participant-reported copresence scores showed that there was an improvement of the perceived copresence with the VH when both the physical–virtual interactivity via airflow and the VH’s awareness behaviors were present together. As the considered environmental factors are directed at the VH, i.e., they are not part of the direct interaction with the real human, they can provide a reasonably generalizable approach to support copresence in AR beyond the particular use case in the present experiment. « less
; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence and Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. In this paper, we investigate the effects of the physical influence of a virtual human (VH) in the context of face-to-face interaction in augmented reality (AR). In our study, participants played a tabletop game with a VH, in which each player takes a turn and moves their own token along the designated spots on the shared table. We compared two conditions as follows: the VH in the virtual condition moves a virtual token that can only be seen through AR glasses, while the VH in the physical condition moves a physical token as the participants do; therefore the VH’s token can be seen even in the periphery of the AR glasses. For the physical condition, we designed an actuator system underneath the table. The actuator moves a magnet under the table which then moves the VH’s physical token over the surface of the table. Our results indicate that participants felt higher co-presence with the VH in the physical condition, and participants assessed the VH as a more physical entity compared to the VH in the virtual condition. We further observed transference effects when participants attributed the VH’s ability to move physical objects to other elements in the real world. Also,more »the VH’s physical influence improved participants’ overall experience with the VH. We discuss potential explanations for the findings and implications for future shared AR tabletop setups.« less
  2. Background: Drivers gather most of the information they need to drive by looking at the world around them and at visual displays within the vehicle. Navigation systems automate the way drivers navigate. In using these systems, drivers offload both tactical (route following) and strategic aspects (route planning) of navigational tasks to the automated SatNav system, freeing up cognitive and attentional resources that can be used in other tasks (Burnett, 2009). Despite the potential benefits and opportunities that navigation systems provide, their use can also be problematic. For example, research suggests that drivers using SatNav do not develop as much environmental spatial knowledge as drivers using paper maps (Waters & Winter, 2011; Parush, Ahuvia, & Erev, 2007). With recent growth and advances of augmented reality (AR) head-up displays (HUDs), there are new opportunities to display navigation information directly within a driver’s forward field of view, allowing them to gather information needed to navigate without looking away from the road. While the technology is promising, the nuances of interface design and its impacts on drivers must be further understood before AR can be widely and safely incorporated into vehicles. Specifically, an impact that warrants investigation is the role of AR HUDS inmore »spatial knowledge acquisition while driving. Acquiring high levels of spatial knowledge is crucial for navigation tasks because individuals who have greater levels of spatial knowledge acquisition are more capable of navigating based on their own internal knowledge (Bolton, Burnett, & Large, 2015). Moreover, the ability to develop an accurate and comprehensive cognitive map acts as a social function in which individuals are able to navigate for others, provide verbal directions and sketch direction maps (Hill, 1987). Given these points, the relationship between spatial knowledge acquisition and novel technologies such as AR HUDs in driving is a relevant topic for investigation. Objectives: This work explored whether providing conformal AR navigational cues improves spatial knowledge acquisition (as compared to traditional HUD visual cues) to assess the plausibility and justification for investment in generating larger FOV AR HUDs with potentially multiple focal planes. Methods: This study employed a 2x2 between-subjects design in which twenty-four participants were counterbalanced by gender. We used a fixed base, medium fidelity driving simulator for where participants drove while navigating with one of two possible HUD interface designs: a world-relative arrow post sign and a screen-relative traditional arrow. During the 10-15 minute drive, participants drove the route and were encouraged to verbally share feedback as they proceeded. After the drive, participants completed a NASA-TLX questionnaire to record their perceived workload. We measured spatial knowledge at two levels: landmark and route knowledge. Landmark knowledge was assessed using an iconic recognition task, while route knowledge was assessed using a scene ordering task. After completion of the study, individuals signed a post-trial consent form and were compensated $10 for their time. Results: NASA-TLX performance subscale ratings revealed that participants felt that they performed better during the world-relative condition but at a higher rate of perceived workload. However, in terms of perceived workload, results suggest there is no significant difference between interface design conditions. Landmark knowledge results suggest that the mean number of remembered scenes among both conditions is statistically similar, indicating participants using both interface designs remembered the same proportion of on-route scenes. Deviance analysis show that only maneuver direction had an influence on landmark knowledge testing performance. Route knowledge results suggest that the proportion of scenes on-route which were correctly sequenced by participants is similar under both conditions. Finally, participants exhibited poorer performance in the route knowledge task as compared to landmark knowledge task (independent of HUD interface design). Conclusions: This study described a driving simulator study which evaluated the head-up provision of two types of AR navigation interface designs. The world-relative condition placed an artificial post sign at the corner of an approaching intersection containing a real landmark. The screen-relative condition displayed turn directions using a screen-fixed traditional arrow located directly ahead of the participant on the right or left side on the HUD. Overall results of this initial study provide evidence that the use of both screen-relative and world-relative AR head-up display interfaces have similar impact on spatial knowledge acquisition and perceived workload while driving. These results contrast a common perspective in the AR community that conformal, world-relative graphics are inherently more effective. This study instead suggests that simple, screen-fixed designs may indeed be effective in certain contexts.« less
  3. Virtual reality (VR) systems have been increasingly used in recent years in various domains, such as education and training. Presence, which can be described as ‘the sense of being there’ is one of the most important user experience aspects in VR. There are several components, which may affect the level of presence, such as interaction, visual fidelity, and auditory cues. In recent years, a significant effort has been put into increasing the sense of presence in VR. This study focuses on improving user experience in VR by increasing presence through increased interaction fidelity and enhanced illusions. Interaction in real life includes mutual and bidirectional encounters between two or more individuals through shared tangible objects. However, the majority of VR interaction to date has been unidirectional. This research aims to bridge this gap by enabling bidirectional mutual tangible embodied interactions between human users and virtual characters in world-fixed VR through real-virtual shared objects that extend from virtual world into the real world. I hypothesize that the proposed novel interaction will shrink the boundary between the real and virtual worlds (through virtual characters that affect the physical world), increase the seamlessness of the VR system (enhance the illusion) and the fidelity ofmore »interaction, and increase the level of presence and social presence, enjoyment and engagement. This paper includes the motivation, design and development details of the proposed novel world-fixed VR system along with future directions.« less
  4. There are significant disparities between the conferring of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) bachelor’s degrees to minoritized groups and the number of STEM faculty that represent minoritized groups at four-year predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Studies show that as of 2019, African American faculty at PWIs have increased by only 2.3% in the last 20 years. This study explores the ways in which this imbalance affects minoritized students in engineering majors. Our research objective is to describe the ways in which African American students navigate their way to success in an engineering program at a PWI where the minoritized faculty representation is less than 10%. In this study, we define success as completion of an undergraduate degree and matriculation into a Ph.D. program. Research shows that African American students struggle with feeling like the “outsider within” in graduate programs and that the engineering culture can permeate from undergraduate to graduate programs. We address our research objective by conducting interviews using navigational capital as our theoretical framework, which can be defined as resilience, academic invulnerability, and skills. These three concepts come together to denote the journey of an individual as they achieve success in an environment not created with them inmore »mind. Navigational capital has been applied in education contexts to study minoritized groups, and specifically in engineering education to study the persistence of students of color. Research on navigational capital often focuses on how participants acquire resources from others. There is a limited focus on the experience of the student as the individual agent exercising their own navigational capital. Drawing from and adapting the framework of navigational capital, this study provides rich descriptions of the lived experiences of African American students in an engineering program at a PWI as they navigated their way to academic success in a system that was not designed with them in mind. This pilot study took place at a research-intensive, land grant PWI in the southeastern United States. We recruited two students who identify as African American and are in the first year of their Ph.D. program in an engineering major. Our interview protocol was adapted from a related study about student motivation, identity, and sense of belonging in engineering. After transcribing interviews with these participants, we began our qualitative analysis with a priori coding, drawing from the framework of navigational capital, to identify the experiences, connections, involvement, and resources the participants tapped into as they maneuvered their way to success in an undergraduate engineering program at a PWI. To identify other aspects of the participants’ experiences that were not reflected in that framework, we also used open coding. The results showed that the participants tapped into their navigational capital when they used experiences, connections, involvement, and resources to be resilient, academically invulnerable, and skillful. They learned from experiences (theirs or others’), capitalized on their connections, positioned themselves through involvement, and used their resources to achieve success in their engineering program. The participants identified their experiences, connections, and involvement. For example, one participant who came from a blended family (African American and White) drew from the experiences she had with her blended family. Her experiences helped her to understand the cultures of Black and White people. She was able to turn that into a skill to connect with others at her PWI. The point at which she took her familial experiences to use as a skill to maneuver her way to success at a PWI was an example of her navigational capital. Another participant capitalized on his connections to develop academic invulnerability. He was able to build his connections by making meaningful relationships with his classmates. He knew the importance of having reliable people to be there for him when he encountered a topic he did not understand. He cultivated an environment through relationships with classmates that set him up to achieve academic invulnerability in his classes. The participants spoke least about how they used their resources. The few mentions of resources were not distinct enough to make any substantial connection to the factors that denote navigational capital. The participants spoke explicitly about the PWI culture in their engineering department. From open coding, we identified the theme that participants did not expect to have role models in their major that looked like them and went into their undergraduate experience with the understanding that they will be the distinct minority in their classes. They did not make notable mention of how a lack of minority faculty affected their success. Upon acceptance, they took on the challenge of being a racial minority in exchange for a well-recognized degree they felt would have more value compared to engineering programs at other universities. They identified ways they maneuvered around their expectation that they would not have representative role models through their use of navigational capital. Integrating knowledge from the framework of navigational capital and its existing applications in engineering and education allows us the opportunity to learn from African American students that have succeeded in engineering programs with low minority faculty representation. The future directions of this work are to outline strategies that could enhance the path of minoritized engineering students towards success and to lay a foundation for understanding the use of navigational capital by minoritized students in engineering at PWIs. Students at PWIs can benefit from understanding their own navigational capital to help them identify ways to successfully navigate educational institutions. Students’ awareness of their capacity to maintain high levels of achievement, their connections to networks that facilitate navigation, and their ability to draw from experiences to enhance resilience provide them with the agency to unleash the invisible factors of their potential to be innovators in their collegiate and work environments.« less
  5. Though virtual reality (VR) has been advanced to certain levels of maturity in recent years, the general public, especially the population of the blind and visually impaired (BVI), still cannot enjoy the benefit provided by VR. Current VR accessibility applications have been developed either on expensive head-mounted displays or with extra accessories and mechanisms, which are either not accessible or inconvenient for BVI individuals. In this paper, we present a mobile VR app that enables BVI users to access a virtual environment on an iPhone in order to build their skills of perception and recognition of the virtual environment and the virtual objects in the environment. The app uses the iPhone on a selfie stick to simulate a long cane in VR, and applies Augmented Reality (AR) techniques to track the iPhone’s real-time poses in an empty space of the real world, which is then synchronized to the long cane in the VR environment. Due to the use of mixed reality (the integration of VR & AR), we call it the Mixed Reality cane (MR Cane), which provides BVI users auditory and vibrotactile feedback whenever the virtual cane comes in contact with objects in VR. Thus, the MR Cane allowsmore »BVI individuals to interact with the virtual objects and identify approximate sizes and locations of the objects in the virtual environment. We performed preliminary user studies with blind-folded participants to investigate the effectiveness of the proposed mobile approach and the results indicate that the proposed MR Cane could be effective to help BVI individuals in understanding the interaction with virtual objects and exploring 3D virtual environments. The MR Cane concept can be extended to new applications of navigation, training and entertainment for BVI individuals without more significant efforts.« less