Grasping real and virtual objects


One of the goals of our lab is to allow people in a shared mixed reality to collaborate together in manipulation of objects. Those objects might be real solid physical objects, or they might virtual objects, which exist only in our collective visual and auditory perception.

One challenge is to create a seamless way of dealing with these two very different classes of objects. Your fingers can feel a physical object — not just its tactile qualities, but the weight of it. When I hand you an object, the physics of the transaction lends a certain emotional power to the exchange.

Virtual objects, on the other hand, have not weight, no tactile dimensions. Yet in mixed reality, such objects are the norm rather than the exception. How should we approach the difference between the experience of manipulating these two very different kinds of objects?

The truth is, there is no a priori answer to that question. The only sure way to explore this fascinating space is to try things out, and learn what actually works best.

But hey, that’s why they call it research.

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