Can Design Bridge the Gap Between Physical and Virtual Realities?: How Props Can Enhance the Immersive Experience - a Pilot Study


Recently, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has greatly advanced, piquing the curiosity of people in various professions. It is considered a strong and responsive tool that elevates human-computer interaction, making it more intuitive and user friendly. VR has become particularly indispensable in the field of art and design, where it plays a notable role in 3D modelling, prototyping, and user experience testing. However, most VR devices available in the market only offer visual and auditory inputs. This study primarily investigates the use of a physical prop and engaging the sense of physical touch in creating a more immersive experience. The study also explores whether using a prop to enhance immersion also affects memory retention of the viewed experience. A common VR scenario, the rollercoaster experience, was utilised and a physical element was introduced to it: the harness. Two VR rollercoaster conditions were created: one with participants sitting on a chair, and a similar condition where they were secured in with a harness. Qualitative and quantitative tools were used to achieve a mixed-method data collection process: Physiological, observational, and self-reporting techniques were used to acquire data in this study. Four biosensors were used to measure heart rate, breathing rate, skin conductance and brain activity. Additionally, a survey was also conducted with each participant. Lastly, observations made during the study were analysed using the thematic analysis technique. Early results confirmed that there is a positive correlation, with varying degrees, between the use of props in both immersion and memory retention.


Noha Fouad
Student, PhD, De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Visual Design


Virtual Reality, User Experience, Immersive Experience, Props, Prototyping, Presence