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 study by Ultraleap, Fallen Planet Studios and the ImmotionVR network of virtual reality arcades suggests it is. Dr Hannah Limerick, user research and insights lead at Ultraleap, goes through the data. 

The startling truth about haptics

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Adding mid-air tactile sensations to VR horror deepens immersion and enhances guest experience.

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.

Ultrahaptics VR Arcades infographic
Adding mid-air tactile sensations to VR horror deepens immersion and enhances guest experience.

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 Ultraleap's 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

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increase in sense of body ownership.
“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

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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

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Net Promoter Score

“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. It creates premium out-of-home experiences that make people more deeply immersed in experiences, more likely to recommend them to friends, and likely actively to choose experiences that incorporate haptics.

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