University of Oulu

Pouke M, Mimnaugh KJ, Chambers AP, Ojala T and LaValle SM (2021) The Plausibility Paradox for Resized Users in Virtual Environments. Front. Virtual Real. 2:655744. doi: 10.3389/frvir.2021.655744

The plausibility paradox for resized users in virtual environments

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Author: Pouke, Matti1; Mimnaugh, Katherine J.1; Chambers, Alexis P.1;
Organizations: 1Center for Ubiquitous Computing, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-12-17


This paper identifies and confirms a perceptual phenomenon: when users interact with simulated objects in a virtual environment where the users’ scale deviates greatly from normal, there is a mismatch between the object physics they consider realistic and the object physics that would be correct at that scale. We report the findings of two studies investigating the relationship between perceived realism and a physically accurate approximation of reality in a virtual reality experience in which the user has been scaled by a factor of ten. Study 1 investigated perception of physics when scaled-down by a factor of ten, whereas Study 2 focused on enlargement by a similar amount. Studies were carried out as within-subjects experiments in which a total of 84 subjects performed simple interaction tasks with objects under two different physics simulation conditions. In the true physics condition, the objects, when dropped and thrown, behaved accurately according to the physics that would be correct at that either reduced or enlarged scale in the real world. In the movie physics condition, the objects behaved in a similar manner as they would if no scaling of the user had occurred. We found that a significant majority of the users considered the movie physics condition to be the more realistic one. However, at enlarged scale, many users considered true physics to match their expectations even if they ultimately believed movie physics to be the realistic condition. We argue that our findings have implications for many virtual reality and telepresence applications involving operation with simulated or physical objects in abnormal and especially small scales.

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Series: Frontiers in virtual reality
ISSN: 2673-4192
ISSN-E: 2673-4192
ISSN-L: 2673-4192
Volume: 2
Article number: 655744
DOI: 10.3389/frvir.2021.655744
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work was supported by the PIXIE (331822) and PERCEPT (322637) projects funded by the Academy of Finland, the COMBAT project (293389) funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland, as well as the HUMOR (3656/31/2019) project funded by Business Finland.
Copyright information: © 2021 Pouke, Mimnaugh, Chambers, Ojala and LaValle. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.