Visually Perceived Distance Judgments : Tablet-Based Augmented Reality Versus the Real World

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-591
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number7
Online published23 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


Does visually perceived distance differ when objects are viewed in augmented reality (AR), as opposed to the real world? What are the differences? These questions are theoretically interesting, and the answers are important for the development of many tablet- and phone-based AR applications, including mobile AR navigation systems. This article presents a thorough literature review of distance judgment experimental protocols, and results from several areas of perceptual psychology. In addition to distance judgments of real and virtual objects, this section also discusses previous work in measuring the geometry of virtual picture space and considers how this work might be relevant to tablet AR. Then, the article presents the results of two experiments. In each experiment, observers bisected egocentric distances of 15 and 30 m in tablet-based AR and in the real world, in both indoor corridor and outdoor field environments. In AR, observers bisected the distances to virtual humans, while in the real world, they bisected the distances to real humans. This is the first reported research that directly compares distance judgments of real and virtual objects in a tablet AR system. Four key findings were: (1) In AR, observers expanded midpoint intervals at 15 m, but compressed midpoints at 30 m. (2) Observers were accurate in the real world. (3) The environmental setting—corridor or open field—had no effect. (4) The picture perception literature is important in understanding how distances are likely judged in tablet-based AR. Taken together, these findings suggest the depth distortions that AR application developers should expect with mobile and especially tablet-based AR.

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