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Weirding Haptics: In-Situ Prototyping of Vibrotactile Feedback in Virtual Reality through Vocalization

Donald Degraen; Bruno Fruchard; Frederik Smolders; Emmanouil Potetsianakis; Seref Güngör; Antonio Krüger; Jürgen Steimle
In: The 34th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology. ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST-2021), New York, NY, USA, UIST '21, ISBN 9781450386357, Association for Computing Machinery, 2021.


Effective haptic feedback in virtual reality (VR) is an essential element for creating convincing immersive experiences. To design such feedback, state-of-the-art VR setups provide APIs for programmatically generating controller vibration patterns. While tools for designing vibrotactile feedback keep evolving, they often require expert knowledge and rarely support direct manipulation methods for mapping feedback to user interactions within the VR environment. To address these challenges, we contribute a novel concept called Weirding Haptics, that supports fast-prototyping by leveraging the user’s voice to design such feedback while manipulating virtual objects in-situ. Through a pilot study (N = 9) focusing on how tactile experiences are vocalized during object manipulation, we identify spatio-temporal mappings and supporting features needed to produce intended vocalizations. To study our concept, we built a VR design tool informed by the results of the pilot study. This tool enables users to design tactile experiences using their voice while manipulating objects, provides a set of modifiers for fine-tuning the created experiences in VR, and allows to rapidly compare various experiences by feeling them. Results from a validation study (N = 8) show that novice hapticians can vocalize experiences and refine their designs with the fine-tuning modifiers to match their intentions. We conclude our work by discussing uncovered design implications for direct manipulation and vocalization of vibrotactile feedback in immersive virtual environments.

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