Masters Project Presentation by Kaitlyn Haase

Invitation to

Masters Project defense: Kaitlyn Haase

When: Friday, Aug 17, 10:00 in Boardman rm 336

Title: Immersive Virtual Haptics for Nonvisual Shape Recognition

Abstract: Geometry curricula are typically taught in a visuospatial manner (i.e., students learn spatial properties of shapes through visual information rendered via 2D diagrams). This approach imposes significant barriers for students who are blind/visually-impaired (BVI). While solutions exist to overcome this issue, they all have significant drawbacks. This research describes the development and evaluation of a new haptic-based virtual interface that addresses the limitations of existing methods for nonvisual access to geometric shapes.

The efficacy of the approach was tested via a behavioral study with sixteen blindfolded-sighted participants. Participants used an HTC Vive controller to freely explore six irregular 2D virtual polygons in mid-air (three triangles, three quadrilaterals) in two orientations: horizontal and vertical (counterbalanced). Constant vibrations indicated edge contact and pulsing stimuli specified vertices. Participants’ were tasked with learning the shape, identifying the number of sides, and then matching from memory with one of four topologically identical alternatives. Learning time was recorded and percent accuracy was calculated. Post-survey qualitative data was also collected and analyzed for assessing usability.

Average accuracy rates were well above chance (82% for horizontal, 74% for vertical), which clearly indicates learning. Findings showed no significant differences in learning time or accuracy between orientations, even though 88% of participants expressed the vertical condition was harder than horizontal. These results are important for justifying future development of 3D immersive haptic shapes, which requires multiplane exploration. The take-home message is that results support the efficacy of this innovative interface for effective nonvisual haptic learning and recognition of shapes.