From Illusions to Beyond-Real Interactions in Virtual Reality

Parastoo Abtahi
User Interface Software and Technology, 2021
Despite recent advances in technology, current virtual reality (VR) experiences have many limitations. When designing VR interactions, we can leverage the unique affordances of this virtual medium and our ability to programmatically control the renderings to not only overcome these limitations, but also to create new interactions that go beyond the replication of the real world. In my dissertation, I seek to answer the following research questions: How can we utilize the unique affordances that VR offers to overcome the current limitations of this technology? How can we go even further and design mixed reality interactions that leverage these affordances to extend our experiences in the real world? In my work, I approach movement-based VR interactions from a sensorimotor control perspective, carefully considering the plasticity and limits of human perception. To answer the first research question, I explore various visuo-haptic illusions to overcome the limitations of existing haptic devices. In my ongoing work, I am building tools that help researchers and practitioners design and evaluate novel and usable mixed reality interactions that have no real-world counterparts.