Virtual Reality & Eye-gaze

Friday 15:00- 15:45

„The Dynamic Experience of Virtual Environments Modulates the Perception of Others’ Affective States: Eye-Gaze and ERP Evidences“

Paolo Presti, Gaia Maria Galasso, Pietro Avanzini, Fausto Caruana, Davide Ruzzon and Giovanni Vecchiato

Abstract— The advance of hybrid technologies allowed the creation of environments where humans and virtual agents may instantiate daily social interactions. However, to enable people to have effective interactions with virtual avatars, it is fundamental to understand the role of the surrounding environment in social scenarios. To this aim, we designed a novel paradigm in virtual reality to unveil those mechanisms underpinning the perception of others’ affective states modulated by a dynamic experience of the surrounding virtual environment. Specifically, participants made a virtual promenade within low/high arousing environments and were then asked to judge the arousal level of an avatar’s body posture at the end of the scene. Here, we present an eye-tracking (Experiment 1) and event-related potentials (ERPs) (Experiment 2) pilot study. In Experiment 1, we found that the dynamic experience of those virtual environments perceived as low arousing was associated with higher subjective arousal scores and higher fixation times on the avatar’s body. In Experiment 2, we found an increased P200 amplitude when the avatar was presented after the experience of the low arousing environment. Overall, both behavioral and EEG evidence highlighted that the dynamic experience of different arousing environments alters attentional mechanism during the observation of the avatars’ body. Specifically, our results suggest that the experience of a relaxing environment may broaden participants’ attentional resources, thus leading to enhanced behavioral and cerebral responses during the observation of the body posture. These preliminary results show the effectiveness of virtual reality in studying how human social behavior is affected by the dynamic experience of virtual environments. Such knowledge will be beneficial for designing future environments where social activities are expected to occur, eventually promoting the creation of healthy hybrid spaces.

Keywords: Virtual environments, dynamic experience, body postures, social interactions, eye-gaze, ERPs

„Using Eye Tracking to Aid The Design Of Human-Machine-Interfaces (HMIs) in Industrial Applications“

Alexandra Kuschnereit, Alexandra Bendixen, Dominic Mandl and Wolfgang Einhäuser

Abstract— In the vision of a “hybrid society”, the interaction between humans and embodied digital technologies is envisaged to be as smooth and seamless as human-human interaction. In the foreseeable future, however, humans will undoubtedly continue to interact with many machines through designated human-machine interfaces (HMIs). Designing such HMIs for production settings presents a particular challenge, as users may vary in their experience and expertise. Moreover, challenging issues of a specific HMI are often difficult to verbalize and therefore hard to obtain through user report and expert interviews alone. To make interactions through HMIs smooth, it is therefore crucial to evaluate HMIs with state-of-the-art technologies that do not require explicit report. Here we demonstrate the use of eye tracking for HMI design in an industrial production setting, where smooth human-machine interaction is particularly critical to ensure safe and efficient operation. Using a real-life example, we illustrate how eye tracking allows dissociating users’ difficulties to find a particular interaction item (“search”) from their challenges in realizing that it is indeed the item to be operated (“verification”). We argue that this distinction is crucial for (re-)designing HMIs to optimize usability and that the usefulness of eye tracking extends beyond the specific context to human-machine interaction in general.

Keywords: gaze, eye tracking, search, human-machine interface (HMI), production, usability, user experience (UX)

„Reducing Prejudice Via VR“

Jan-Philipp Stein, Timo Gnambs and Markus Appel

Abstract— In the theory-driven quest to resolve human prejudice, psychological scholars have directed their attention towards new media and technologies, hoping to overcome the limitations found in conventional anti-prejudice interventions. Rather crucially, this has involved Virtual Reality (VR), a technology designed to fully immerse users in lifelike digital environments. As VR may facilitate both intense perspective-taking experiences as well as low-threshold intergroup contact, it has been proposed as a valuable tool against many forms of outgroup bias, including racism, ableism, and transphobia. Yet, with the respective literature growing rapidly, a synthesis of extant findings seems much needed. In this ongoing meta-analytical project, we aggregate evidence from prior studies that experimentally compared VR-based prejudice interventions to either (a) alternative interventional strategies or (b) no/mock treatment groups. Furthermore, we investigate the role of several theoretically relevant moderator variables (e.g., the type of outcome measure or addressed bias) in order to gain more nuanced insight into the merit of VR as an anti-prejudice platform. Based on our findings, we will discuss potential improvements to this emerging virtual practice.

Keywords: virtual reality, outgroup bias, prejudice, intervention, meta-analysis