We explore the potential of direct haptic interaction in a novel approach to Tangible Augmented Reality in an educational context. Employing our prototyping platform ACTO, we developed a tabletop Augmented Reality application StARboard for sailing students. In this personal viewpoint environment virtual objects, e.g., sailing ships, are physically represented by actuated micro robots. These align with virtual objects, allowing direct physical interaction with the scene. When a user tries to pick up a virtual ship, its physical robot counterpart is grabbed instead. We also developed a tracking solution TrACTOr, employing a depth sensor to allow tracking independent of the table surface. In this paper we present concept and development of StARboard and TrACTOr. We report results of our user study with 18 participants using our prototype. They show that direct haptic interaction in tabletop AR scores en-par with traditional mouse interaction on a desktop setup in usability (mean SUS = 86.7 vs. 82.9) and performance (mean RTLX = 15.0 vs. 14.8), while outperforming the mouse in factors related to learning like presence (mean 6.0 vs 3.1) and absorption (mean 5.4 vs. 4.2). It was also rated the most fun (13× vs. 0×) and most suitable for learning (9× vs. 4×).
E. Vonach, C. Schindler, H. Kaufmann: "StARboard & TrACTOr: Actuated Tangibles in an Educational TAR Application"; Multimodal Technologies and Interaction (invited), 5 (2021), 2.
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