Talk to the virtual hands

October 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: Weight loss success in a 3-D virtual world

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

June 3, 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

June 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

December 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

July 9, 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 forward the use ...

Recommended for you

Volumetric 3-D printing builds on need for speed

December 11, 2017

While additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3-D printing, is enabling engineers and scientists to build parts in configurations and designs never before possible, the impact of the technology has been limited by ...

Tech titans ramp up tools to win over children

December 10, 2017

From smartphone messaging tailored for tikes to computers for classrooms, technology titans are weaving their way into childhoods to form lifelong bonds, raising hackles of advocacy groups.

Mapping out a biorobotic future  

December 8, 2017

You might not think a research area as detailed, technically advanced and futuristic as building robots with living materials would need help getting organized, but that's precisely what Vickie Webster-Wood and a team from ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.