Ambiotherm: Enhancing Sense of Presence in Virtual Reality by Simulating Real-World Environmental Conditions.
In this paper, we present and evaluate Ambiotherm, a wearable accessory for Head Mounted Displays (HMD) that provides thermal and wind stimuli to simulate real-world environmental conditions, such as ambient temperatures and wind conditions, to enhance the sense of presence in Virtual Reality (VR). Ambiotherm consists of a Ambient Temperature Module that is attached to the user’s neck, a Wind Simulation Module focused towards the user’s face, and a Control Module utilizing Bluetooth communication. We demonstrate Ambiotherm with two VR environments, a hot desert, and a snowy mountain, to showcase the different types of simulated environmental conditions. We conduct several studies to 1) address design factors of the system and 2) evaluate Ambiotherm’s effect on factors related to a user’s sense of presence. Our findings show that the addition of wind and thermal stimuli significantly improves sensory and realism factors, contributing towards an enhanced sense of presence when compared to traditional VR experiences.
Nimesha Ranasinghe, Pravar Jain, Shienny Karwita, David Tolley, and Ellen Yi-Luen Do. 2017. Ambiotherm: Enhancing Sense of Presence in Virtual Reality by Simulating Real-World Environmental Conditions. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems(CHI ’17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1731-1742. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025723