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VR arcades study | Haptics boosts replays by 20%

Is it possible to quantify the impact of adding haptic feedback to VR experiences? The results of a recent study by Ultrahaptics, Fallen Planet Studios and the ImmotionVR network of virtual reality arcades suggests it is. Dr Hannah Limerick, user research and insights lead at Ultrahaptics, goes through the data. 

Ultrahaptics VR arcades infographic

83% of virtual reality arcades identified horror as one of their most popular genres, a 2017 survey of 200 VR arcades around the world found. And, from the touch of an ice-cold hand to the unexpected brush of something across the back of your neck, the sensation of touch (whether imagined or directly experienced) has always been a key part of the horror genre.

Haptic technology – i.e. technology that simulates the sense of touch – enables the addition of tactile sensations to VR. In partnership with leading VR development studio Fallen Planet Studios and the ImmotionVR network of VR arcades, we set out to find out if we could quantify what difference adding haptic technology to a VR horror experience made.

AFFECTED: The Visit is a 3-minute VR horror experience extending Fallen Planet’s existing AFFECTED IP. Hand tracking enables guests to interact with it using only their hands (no controllers are required), and Ultrahaptics’ mid-air haptic feedback provides tactile sensations.

We tested the experience with and without haptics in one of Immotion’s VR arcades to see if we could measure the difference.

VR ARCADE GUESTS FELT MORE IMMERSED IN THE EXPERIENCE

When haptic feedback was enabled, guests reported a 25% increase in sense of body ownership, and a 27% increase in sense of agency. Both these measures indicate that guests felt more immersed in the VR experience.

 “In other VR you are looking or shooting, but this you are feeling. The sensation puts you in the virtual world.”

– Guest quote

HAPTICS INCREASES REPLAYABILITY IN VR ARCADES

Guests who used AFFECTED: The Visit with haptics enabled were 20% more likely to choose to replay the experience as part of a 30-minute session pass. (90% of participants would choose to replay the experience with haptics versus 75% without, an increase of 20%.)

100% of study participants would choose an experience with mid-air haptics again (66% would be “very likely” and 34% would be “likely”. Not one participant gave a neutral or negative answer.)

“It changed the aspect of the game, normally VR has a controller, it feels clunky… with the hands it was more intuitive.”

– Guest quote

NET PROMOTER SCORE JUMPED FROM NEUTRAL TO POSITIVE

The experience with haptics had a Net Promoter Score of +39, versus a score of 0 for the experience without haptics.

Net Promoter Score (or NPS) is a measure of advocacy. A positive score indicates that more people would positively recommend a VR experience than would remain passive or actively recommend against it.

A score of zero, on the other hand, indicates that, on average, people were neutral about the experience.

“The feeling on the hands was realistic… it made me more involved in the situation and I felt like I had the power to destroy her…”

– Guest quote

HAPTIC TECHNOLOGY HAS A LONG HISTORY IN VR ARCADES

Arcades have always been pioneers of haptic technology: the first consumer use of haptics was in video game arcades in the 1970s. Our study shows that modern haptic technology has a measurable impact on guest experience, making people more deeply immersed in experiences, more likely to recommend them to friends, and likely actively to choose experiences that incorporate haptics.

MID-AIR HAPTICS IN VR ARCADES AND OTHER IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES

Ultrahaptics LBE whitepaper layout

Ultrahaptics’ patented algorithms control ultrasound waves to create tactile sensations in mid-air. No controllers or wearables are needed: ultrasonic speakers project shapes and textures directly onto a user’s hands.

To find out more about Ultrahaptics’ technology and the ways it can enhance VR experiences in arcades, location-based VR and theme parks, download our whitepaper. This includes:

  • Mid-air haptic effects you can create
  • Single user/pod-based/multi-user/free roaming scenarios
  • Operational benefits
  • Development kits, haptic modules and tools

Dr Hannah Limerick is user research and insights lead at Ultrahaptics.

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