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Conceptualising touch in VR

Price, S; Jewitt, C; Yiannoutsou, N; (2021) Conceptualising touch in VR. Virtual Reality 10.1007/s10055-020-00494-y. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

How touch is conceptualised matters in shaping technical advancements, bringing opportunities and challenges for development and design and raising questions for how touch experience is reconfigured. This paper explores the notion of touch in virtual reality (VR). Specifically, it identifies how touch ‘connection’ is realised and conceptualised in virtual spaces in order to explore how digital remediation of touch in VR shapes the sociality of touch experiences and touch practices. Ten participants from industry and academia with an interest in touch in virtual contexts were interviewed using an in-depth semi-structured approach to elicit experiences and perspectives around the role of touch in VR. Data analysis shows the growing value and significance of touch in virtual spaces and reveals particular ways in which touch is talked about, implemented and conceptualised. It highlights changes for the sociality of touch through participants’ conceptualisations of touch as replication and illusion, and how the body is brought into this ‘touch’ space. These perspectives of touch shape who touches, what is touched and how it is touched and set an agenda for the types of touch that are facilitated by VR. The findings suggest ways in which technological techniques can be employed towards interpretive designs of touch that allow for new ways to look at touch and haptics. They also show how touch is distorted and disrupted in ways that have implications for disturbing established ‘real world’ socialities of touch as well as their renegotiation by users in the space of digitally mediated touch in VR.

Type: Article
Title: Conceptualising touch in VR
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10055-020-00494-y
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10055-020-00494-y
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Immersive virtual reality, Touch, Illusion, Reproduction, Social perspectives, Design
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118541
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