A Comparison of Learning with Haptic and Visual Modalities
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The impact of haptic feedback on the perception of unknown objects (10 without texture, 10 with texture, and 2 complex shapes) was examined. Using a point probe (a PHANTOM), three treatment groups of students (visual, haptic, and visual plus haptic feedback) explored a set of virtual objects. The visual treatment group observed the objects through a small circular aperture. Accuracy of perception, exploration time, and description of objects were compared for the three treatment groups. Participants included 45 visually normal undergraduate students distributed across the three treatment groups and 4 blind students composing a second haptic-only group. Results showed that, within the normally sighted students, the haptic and haptic plus visual groups were slightly slower in their explorations than the visual group. The haptic plus visual group was more accurate in identifying objects than the visual or haptic-only groups. The terms used by the haptic treatment group to describe the objects differed from the visual and visual plus haptic groups, suggesting that these modalities are processed differently. There were no differences across the three groups for long-term memory of the objects. The haptic group was significantly more accurate in identifying the complex objects than the visual or visual plus haptic groups. The blind students using haptic feedback were not significantly different from the other haptic-only treatment group of normally-sighted participants for accuracy, exploration pathways, and exploration times. The haptic-only group of participants spent more time exploring the back half of the virtual objects than the visual or visual plus haptic participants. This finding supports previous research showing that the use of the PHANTOM with haptic feedback tends to support the development of 3-dimensional understandings of objects.