Project

Situated VR: Towards a Congruent Hybrid Reality without Experiential Artifacts

Copyright

Valdemar Danry

Valdemar Danry

Situated VR: Towards a Congruent Hybrid Reality

The vision of Extended Reality (XR) systems is living in a hybrid reality or "Metaverse" where real and virtual elements seamlessly and contextually augment experiences of ourselves and the worlds we inhabit. While this integration promises exciting opportunities for the future of XR, it comes at the risk of experiential distortions and feelings of dissociation, especially related to virtual reality. When transitioning from a virtual world to the real, users often report experiential structures to linger on, as sort-of after images, causing disruptions in a user's daily life. In this work, we define these atypical experiences as experiential artifacts and present preliminary results from an informal survey conducted online with 76 VR users to highlight different types and their durations. Based on models of cognition as situated, we propose Situated VR, which blends the real and virtual in novel ways, as a method that can potentially help reduce the artifacts and simultaneously increase the user's sense of presence. We discuss the implications of experiential artifac… View full description

Situated VR: Towards a Congruent Hybrid Reality

The vision of Extended Reality (XR) systems is living in a hybrid reality or "Metaverse" where real and virtual elements seamlessly and contextually augment experiences of ourselves and the worlds we inhabit. While this integration promises exciting opportunities for the future of XR, it comes at the risk of experiential distortions and feelings of dissociation, especially related to virtual reality. When transitioning from a virtual world to the real, users often report experiential structures to linger on, as sort-of after images, causing disruptions in a user's daily life. In this work, we define these atypical experiences as experiential artifacts and present preliminary results from an informal survey conducted online with 76 VR users to highlight different types and their durations. Based on models of cognition as situated, we propose Situated VR, which blends the real and virtual in novel ways, as a method that can potentially help reduce the artifacts and simultaneously increase the user's sense of presence. We discuss the implications of experiential artifacts and highlight the importance of Situated VR for a future where we spend most of our time in such systems. Through examples from our own work in building hybrid experiences, we demonstrate the potential and relevance of Situated VR in the design of a future, more immersive, experiential artifact-free hybrid reality.

Copyright

Valdemar Danry + Pat Pataranutaporn

Experiential Artifacts

The experiences of ourselves, our surroundings, and others are formed through a complex interplay between multisensory signals, and internal mappings of the world and body.  An important feature of these internal mappings is they are partly constructed by previous experience with objects and people in our surroundings and can thus be altered or create anomalous experiences through repeated exposure to different bodily and world experiences.

In this article, we suggest similar disorganizations of experience to also be found among some VR users in the form of experiential artifacts (EAs) when transitioning between real and virtual worlds. To get a better understanding of these EAs, we surveyed 76 VR users. Based on answers gathered through the survey, we found that altered feelings of one's body, objects, reality, and other people linger after a VR session for many users (above 56% of 76 participants), with the strongest effects occurring when users are new to the devices and experiences. After sessions of over one hour in length, participants reported EAs that lasted anywhere from one hour to five days. We highlight some of their reports below.

[In the real world] I would feel like my hands were not my hands, or for a moment things would feel as if I could pass through them

Coming back to the real world after being in VR, participants reported atypical experiences such as "I feel like my hands were not my hands,'' "You feel like you’re gliding on the world rather than walking,'' or that they feel "taller'' after coming out of a session. One participant stated that "[...] when I first started playing VR, I would feel like my hands were not my hands or for a moment things would feel as if I could pass through them'' with the experience being "sort of like you're floating out of your body when looking at it.'' Some participants reported their feelings of other people to change as well. They would, for instance, feel as if people "gazed at them differently,'' "had different body language,'' or weren't real people. One participant reported that "people looked like they were NPCs (non-playable characters; programmed/artificial) from [their] point of view, [and] conversations seemed lacking of content.''

While these experiences of dissociation might sound bleak and unpleasant, many of those who experienced EAs for shorter periods, found them interesting and were sad when they went away. On the other hand, some participants, who experienced EAs for longer periods, reported that they could "make life a little harder'' and expressed positive sentiments when they went away. 

Copyright

Valdemar Danry

Towards a Situated Hybrid Reality

Our survey results show that EAs are caused by many different kinds of incongruencies. For example, we observe some EAs to be caused by incongruent body movement structures (controller vs walking), object rigidity (pass-through vs solid), and interpersonal body language (pose and expression) between the real and virtual worlds. For this article, we consider cases of situatedness of experiences along these same three main axes. Situated body movement can, for instance, be enabled by connecting the affordances of locomotion in the real space with those of the virtual (e.g., natural walking in the real and virtual worlds simultaneously). Situatedness of object rigidity can be enabled by making sure objects respond similarly to physics or interaction in real and virtual spaces (e.g., by objects pushing your hand back when being touched rather than passing through). Situatedness of other people's body language can similarly be enabled by having emotions and intentions be expressed with the same body language in real and virtual spaces (e.g., through complex full-body language such as posture and facial expressions, or simple body language through visually expressive avatars) (see figure above).

The paper is currently under review for IEEE