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Brittney Hartle, Laurie M. Wilcox; Stereoscopic depth constancy for physical objects and their virtual counterparts. Journal of Vision 2022;22(4):9. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.4.9.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Stereopsis plays an important role in depth perception; if so, disparity-defined depth should not vary with distance. However, studies of stereoscopic depth constancy often report systematic distortions in depth judgments over distance, particularly for virtual stimuli. Our aim was to understand how depth estimation is impacted by viewing distance and display-based cue conflicts by replicating physical objects in virtual counterparts. To this end, we measured perceived depth using virtual textured half-cylinders and identical three-dimensional (3D) printed versions at two viewing distances under monocular and binocular conditions. Virtual stimuli were viewed using a mirror stereoscope and an Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD), while physical stimuli were viewed in a controlled test environment. Depth judgments were similar in both virtual apparatuses, which suggests that variations in the viewing geometry and optics of the HMD have little impact on perceived depth. When viewing physical stimuli binocularly, judgments were accurate and exhibited stereoscopic depth constancy. However, in all cases, depth was underestimated for virtual stimuli and failed to achieve depth constancy. It is clear that depth constancy is only complete for cue-rich physical stimuli and that the failure of constancy in virtual stimuli is due to the presence of the vergence-accommodation conflict. Further, our post hoc analysis revealed that prior experience with virtual and physical environments had a strong effect on depth judgments. That is, performance in virtual environments was enhanced by limited exposure to a related task using physical objects.
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