Haptic virtual reality for blind computer users
This paper describes a series of studies involving a haptic device which can display virtual textures and 3-D objects. The device has potential for simulating real world objects and assisting in the navigation of virtual environments. Three experiments investigated: (a) whether previous results from experiments using real textures could be replicated using virtual textures; (b) whether participants perceived virtual objects to have the intended size and angle; and (c) whether simulated real objects could be recognised. In all the experiments differences in perception by blind and sighted people were also explored. The results have implications for the future design of VEs in that it cannot be assumed that virtual textures and objects will feel to the user as the designer intends. However, they do show that a haptic interface has considerable potential for blind computer users.