The Critical Role of Self-Contact for Embodiment in Virtual Reality

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PubDate: February 2018

Teams: Logitech;Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Writers: Sidney Bovet; Henrique Galvan Debarba; Bruno Herbelin; Eray Molla; Ronan Boulic

PDF: The Critical Role of Self-Contact for Embodiment in Virtual Reality


With the broad range of motion capture devices available on the market, it is now commonplace to directly control the limb movement of an avatar during immersion in a virtual environment. Here, we study how the subjective experience of embodying a full-body controlled avatar is influenced by motor alteration and self-contact mismatches. Self-contact is in particular a strong source of passive haptic feedback and we assume it to bring a clear benefit in terms of embodiment. For evaluating this hypothesis, we experimentally manipulate self-contacts and the virtual hand displacement relatively to the body. We introduce these body posture transformations to experimentally reproduce the imperfect or incorrect mapping between real and virtual bodies, with the goal of quantifying the limits of acceptance for distorted mapping on the reported body ownership and agency. We first describe how we exploit egocentric coordinate representations to perform a motion capture ensuring that real and virtual hands coincide whenever the real hand is in contact with the body. Then, we present a pilot study that focuses on quantifying our sensitivity to visuo-tactile mismatches. The results are then used to design our main study with two factors, offset (for self-contact) and amplitude (for movement amplification). Our main result shows that subjects’ embodiment remains important, even when an artificially amplified movement of the hand was performed, but provided that correct self-contacts are ensured.

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