Master-Thesis DFKI & Saarland University Tech-Report 1 1/2016.
Proxy interaction is a way to add haptics to interactive virtual realities. Here, users interact with physical models, called proxies, that physically represent virtual objects in the virtual environment. Previous research has investigated several properties of proxy objects and their influence on proxy interaction. However, the role of a proxy’s weight distribution in virtual reality interaction is still understudied. This thesis investigates the influence of proxy weight distribution and corresponding visual-haptic discrepancies on virtual reality proxy interaction and the perception of virtual objects. In two experiments, participants interacted with virtual objects represented by physical proxies of different weight distributions. It could be shown that weight distribution is an influential proxy property with great potential to enhance future interactive virtual reality experiences involving haptics. Weight shift direction was found to be the most important factor for perception, especially for perceived realism. Weight distribution discrepancies were shown to cause errors during interaction. In addition to that, it was shown that using the weight distribution of the proxy, other properties of virtual objects like length and weight can be simulated on a perceptual level. The findings fill a gap in the research on proxy properties and can help to develop versatile proxy objects that change their weight distribution to enable enhanced virtual reality experiences.