Effectiveness of haptic feedback coupled with the use of a head-mounted display for the evaluation of virtual mechanisms
Adequate immersion in virtual environments is a key to having a successful virtual simulation experience. As people have more of a sense of "being there" (telepresence) when they experience a virtual simulation, their experience becomes more realistic and therefore they are able to make valid assessments of their environments. This thesis presents the results of a study focused on the evaluation of participants' perceptional and preferential differences between a haptic and non-haptic virtual experience coupled with the use and non-use of a head-mounted display (HMD). Several measurements were used in order to statistically compare the performance of participants from four groups, haptic with the HMD, non-haptic with the HMD, haptic without the HMD, and non-haptic without the HMD. The study found that the virtual environment (VE) display type, either HMD or desktop monitor, affected participants' ability to detect mechanism differences related to motion, arm length, and distances (mechanism length and location) as well as influenced the amount of time required to evaluate each mechanism design during trial one. The treatment type (haptic or non-haptic) affected participants' ability to estimate mechanism differences, influenced the detection of mechanism arm length differences, and resulted in differences in the amount of time needed to evaluate each mechanism design. Regardless of which treatment participants initially experienced, participants overwhelmingly preferred the haptic treatment to the non?-haptic treatment. The results of this study will help scientists make more informed decisions related to haptic device utilization, as well as head-mounted display use, an the interaction of the two. Several recommendations for future human factor studies related to haptic sensation, HMD use, and virtual reality are also included.