An experimental study of interaction in a collaborative desktop virtual environment is described. The aim of the experiment was to investigate if added haptic force feedback in such an environment affects perceived virtual presence, perceived social presence, perceived task performance, and task performance. A between-group design was employed, where seven pairs of subjects used an interface with graphic representation of the environment, audio connection, and haptic force feedback. Seven other pairs of subjects used an interface without haptic force feedback, but with identical features otherwise. The PHANToM, a one-point haptic device, was used for the haptic force feedback, and a program especially developed for the purpose provided the virtual environment. The program enables for two individuals placed in different locations to simultaneously feel and manipulate dynamic objects in a shared desktop virtual environment. Results show that haptic force feedback significantly improves task performance, perceived task performance, and pereceived virtual presence in the collaborative distributed environment. The results suggest that haptic force feedback increases perceived social presence, but the difference is not significant.
2000. Vol. 7, no 4, 461-476 p.