Virtual Reality for Object Location Spatial Memory: A Comparison of Handheld Controllers and Force Feedback Gloves
Authors: Forgiarini, A., Buttussi, F., Chittaro, L.
Published in: Proceedings of CHITALY 2023: 15th Biannual Conference of the Italian ACM SIGCHI Chapter, ACM Press, New York, September 2023, pp. 1-9.
Abstract: Object Location Spatial Memory (OLSM) is used in everyday tasks for which it is important to remember where objects are in space. The spatial image of the environment to perform such OLSM tasks is created based on inputs from three spatial senses (visual, auditory, and haptic). Various causes, ranging from traumatic brain injury to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, can compromise OLSM, requiring OLSM rehabilitation techniques. Virtual reality (VR) can provide a safe environment for engaging rehabilitation experiences. In the last years, new technologies for multi-modal interaction such as force feedback gloves (FGs) have appeared on the market, but their possible advantages over handheld controllers (HCs) that come together with head-mounted displays have not been evaluated in the context of OLSM tasks. This paper investigates whether adding haptic input can lead to more effective OLSM training by comparing a pair of HCs with a pair of FGs in performing the same OLSM task, i.e. placing different objects in memorized locations. We conducted a within-subjects user study with 24 participants who performed the OLSM task in two conditions: with HCs and with FGs. Presence was measured with the IPQ questionnaire, and results showed statistically significant differences in favor of interacting with FGs on the general item about the sense of being there. Participants judged the system usability high in both conditions. Perceived fatigue was higher when using FGs. We expected better performance with FGs thanks to the addition of haptic input, but no statistically significant differences were found in the total number of correctly placed objects. Results showed that the time to complete the task was lower with the HCs than FGs. Future comparisons with other types of FGs may confirm that this type of OLSM task does not benefit from specialized haptic hardware, supporting the possibility of performing OLSM rehabilitation exercises at patients’ home with affordable commercial VR kits.