Talk to the virtual hands

Oct 12, 2011

Body language of both speaker and listener affects success in virtual reality communication game.

Modern technology allows us to communicate in more ways than ever before, but this virtual communication usually lacks the body gestures so common in face-to-face interactions.

New research, published Oct. 12 in the online journal , finds that the lack of gestural information from both speaker and listener limits successful communication in virtual environments.

Participants in the study played a communication game, in which one partner had to describe a word's meaning to his partner so that the partner could guess the word.

Importantly, the partners could only interact through animated avatars; in some cases the avatars were controlled by virtual reality suits worn by the participants, while in other cases the avatars remained static throughout the game or acted out pre-recorded gestures.

The researchers found that the best performance was obtained when both avatars were able to move according to the of their owner. Specifically, they found that, in addition to the body language of the speaker being important, the of the listener impacted success at the task, providing evidence of the need for nonverbal feedback from listening partners in successful communication.

The researchers note that there are limitations to in virtual reality environments. First, they found that move much less in a virtual environment than they do in the "." They also found that the perspective of the camera in the affected the results.

Lead author, Dr. Trevor Dodds maintains, "this research demonstrates that virtual reality technology can help us gain a greater understanding of the role of body gestures in communication. We show that body gestures carry extra information when communicating the meaning of words. Additionally, with virtual reality technology we have learned that body gestures from both the speaker and listener contribute to the successful communication of the meaning of words. These findings are also important for the development of virtual environments, with applications including medical training, urban planning, entertainment and telecommunication."

Explore further: Oculus unveils new prototype VR headset

More information: Dodds TJ, Mohler BJ, Bu¨ lthoff HH (2011) Talk to the Virtual Hands: Self-Animated Avatars Improve Communication in Head-Mounted Display Virtual Environments. PLoS ONE 6(10): e25759. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025759

Related Stories

Weight loss success in a 3-D virtual world

Jun 03, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Participants in two weight-loss programs - one involving traditional health club sessions and the other delivered online in a 3D virtual world - lost similar amounts of weight and body fat, but the online ...

Pendulum Finds Virtual Soulmate

Jun 14, 2007

What's nerdier than creating an online avatar that fights dragons and raids strongholds? Creating a virtual pendulum that you can sync up to your real-life pendulum. Leave it to physicists to do just that, resulting in a ...

Gesture recognition

Dec 18, 2008

A system that can recognize human gestures could provide a new way for people with physical disabilities to interact with computers. A related system for the able bodied could also be used to make virtual worlds more realistic. ...

Avatars as communicators of emotions

Jul 09, 2008

Current interactive systems enable users to communicate with computers in many ways, but not taking into account emotional communication. A PhD thesis presented at the University of the Basque Country puts ...

Recommended for you

Oculus unveils new prototype VR headset

20 hours ago

Oculus has unveiled a new prototype of its virtual reality headset. However, the VR company still isn't ready to release a consumer edition.

Computerized emotion detector

Sep 16, 2014

Face recognition software measures various parameters in a mug shot, such as the distance between the person's eyes, the height from lip to top of their nose and various other metrics and then compares it with photos of people ...

User comments : 0