Usability of hybrid, physical and virtual objects for basic manipulation tasks in virtual environments
Integrating physical and virtual environments has been shown to improve usability of virtual reality (VR) applications. Objects within these mixed realities (MR (Milgram and Kishino, 1994)) can be hybrid physical/virtual objects that are physically manipulatable and have flexible shape and texture. We compare usability of hybrid objects for basic manipulation tasks (rotation, positioning) to physical and virtual objects. The results suggest that hybrid objects are manipulated faster than virtual objects, but not more accurately. Physical objects outperform both hybrid and virtual objects in terms of speed and accuracy. On the other hand, users felt most stimulated by the virtual objects, followed by the hybrid and physical objects. The study shows that hybrid objects "work" in virtual environments, but further investigations regarding the factors influencing their usability are needed.