How Virtual Hand Representations Affect the Perceptions of Dynamic Affordances in Virtual Reality

Roshan Venkatakrishnan*, Rohith Venkatakrishnan, Balagopal Raveendranath, Christopher C. Pagano, Andrew C. Robb, Wen Chieh Lin, Sabarish V. Babu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


User representations are critical to the virtual experience, and involve both the input device used to support interactions as well as how the user is virtually represented in the scene. Inspired by previous work that has shown effects of user representations on the perceptions of relatively static affordances, we attempt to investigate how end-effector representations affect the perceptions of affordances that dynamically change over time. Towards this end, we empirically evaluated how different virtual hand representations affect users' perceptions of dynamic affordances in an object retrieval task wherein users were tasked with retrieving a target from a box for a number of trials while avoiding collisions with its moving doors. We employed a 3 (virtual end-effector representation) X 13 (frequency of moving doors) X 2 (target object size) multi-factorial design, manipulating the input modality and its concomitant virtual end-effector representation as a between-subjects factor across three experimental conditions: (1) Controller (using a controller represented as a virtual controller); (2) Controller-hand (using a controller represented as a virtual hand); (3) Glove (using a hand tracked hi-fidelity glove represented as a virtual hand). Results indicated that the controller-hand condition produced lower levels of performance than both the other conditions. Furthermore, users in this condition exhibited a diminished ability to calibrate their performance over trials. Overall, we find that representing the end-effector as a hand tends to increase embodiment but can also come at the cost of performance, or an increased workload due to a discordant mapping between the virtual representation and the input modality used. It follows that VR system designers should carefully consider the priorities and target requirements of the application being developed when choosing the type of end-effector representation for users to embody in immersive virtual experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2258-2268
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


  • Affordance
  • Passability
  • Self-Avatar
  • Virtual Reality


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