One of the worst virtual environment experiences is to virtually contact something and feel nothing. Visual-haptic sensory conflicts are normally dominated by visual perception. Therefore, augmenting a high-fidelity visual virtual environment with low-fidelity haptic objects, called passive haptics, should markedly improve both sense of presence and task training effectiveness. Testing these hypotheses, I found adding a 1.5 inch physical ledge to a visual-cliff virtual environment increased participants' sense of presence as measured by subjective questionnaires, observed participant behaviors, and physiological responses. I next examined memory model creation and training effectiveness for a navigation task in a virtual environment with and without passive haptics. No significant differences were found in memory model creation. When navigating an identical real environment while blindfolded, those trained in a virtual environment augmented with passive haptics performed significantly faster and with fewer collisions than those trained in a non-augmented virtual environment. More participants who trained without passive haptics unexpectedly navigated incorrectly about the same obstacle.
Insko, Brent E., "Enhancing Training and Presence in Virtual Environments Using Passive Haptics" (2001). Link Foundation Modeling, Simulation and Training Fellowship Reports. 52.
Link Foundation Fellowship for the years 2000-2001.