Virtual reality (VR) promises boundless potential for experiences. Yet, due to technical restrictions, current VR experiences are often limited in many ways and incomparable to their real-world counterparts. Walkable smooth uneven surfaces are inherent to reality but lacking in VR. At the same time, VR enables the alteration and manipulation of perception, offering tools for reshaping the experience. In this thesis, we explore the possibility of simulating walkable smooth uneven surfaces in VR via a multi-sensory stimulation approach. We examine human height and slant perception and incorporate our findings into a multi-modal approach by combining visual manipulations, haptic and vibrotactile stimuli. Our approach is realized by constructing physical bridge props and creating a complex software application to introduce multi-sensory stimuli to the user. The simulation is evaluated in two user studies, each focusing on one of two differently shaped physical bridge props. In the studies, we evaluate the feasibility of a flat and an upward curved prop for the simulation of different virtual surface heights. The data collected during the studies is subjected to a qualitative and quantitative analysis. Our results suggest that the use of a curved prop enables the convincing simulation of significantly higher uneven surfaces than the actual height of the prop. The haptic feedback of the curved surface and the proprioceptive cues of actual vertical traversal facilitate user provided height and slant estimations to be closer to the values suggested by the visual cues. The use of a flat prop is less realistic and leads to height and slant underestimations, despite the simulated visual height and slant cues.However, a flat surface might be still used to simulate indentations and protrusions with smaller height differences.


Kovács, B. I. (2020). VR Bridges: Simulation von unebenen Flächen in VR [Diploma Thesis, Technische Universität Wien]. reposiTUm. https://doi.org/10.34726/hss.2020.73320