Touching Sharp Virtual Objects Produces a Haptic Illusion

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6773)


Top down perceptual processing implies that much of what we perceive is based on prior knowledge and expectation. It has been argued that such processing is why Virtual Reality works at all - the brain filling in missing information based on expectation. We investigated this with respect to touch. Seventeen participants were asked to touch different objects seen in a Virtual Reality system. Although no haptic feedback was provided, questionnaire results show that sharpness was experienced when touching a virtual cone and scissors, but not when touching a virtual sphere. Skin conductance responses separate out the sphere as different to the remaining objects. Such exploitation of expectation-based illusory sensory feedback could be useful in the design of plausible virtual environments.


Virtual Reality Human Reaction Physiology Haptic Illusion 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Advanced Robotics Dept.Istituto Italiano di TecnologiaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.Universidad Politécnica de CataluñaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.ICREA-Universidad de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Computer Science Dept.University College LondonLondonUK

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