Studying exocentric distance perception in optical see-through augmented reality


While perceptual biases have been widely investigated in Virtual Reality (VR), very few studies have considered the challenging environment of Optical See-through Augmented Reality (OST-AR). Moreover, regarding distance perception, existing works mainly focus on the assessment of egocentric distance perception, i.e. distance between the observer and a real or a virtual object. In this paper, we study exocentric distance perception in AR, hereby considered as the distance between two objects, none of them being directly linked to the user. We report a user study (n=29) aiming at estimating distances between two objects lying in a frontoparallel plane at 2.1m from the observer (i.e. in the medium-field perceptual space). Four conditions were tested in our study: real objects on the left and on the right of the participant (called real-real), virtual objects on both sides (virtual-virtual), a real object on the left and a virtual one on the right (real-virtual) and finally a virtual object on the left and a real object on the right (virtual-real). Participants had to reproduce the distance between the objects by spreading two real identical objects presented in front of them. The main findings of this study are the overestimation (20%) of exocentric distances for all tested conditions. Surprisingly, the real-real condition was significantly more overestimated (by about 4%, p=.0166) compared to the virtual-virtual condition, i.e. participants obtained better estimates of the exocentric distance for the virtual-virtual condition. Finally, for the virtual-real/real-virtual conditions, the analysis showed a non-symmetrical behavior, which suggests that the relationship between real and virtual objects with respect to the user might be affected by other external factors. Considered together, these unexpected results illustrate the need for additional experiments to better understand the perceptual phenomena involved in exocentric distance perception with real and virtual objects.

Proceedings - 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, ISMAR 2019