Date of Award

Winter 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Christopher Brill

Committee Member

Yusuke Yamani

Committee Member

Miguel Padilla


Vibrotactile displays are capable of conveying extrapersonal spatial information to users navigating or operating within a three-dimensional environment (e.g., aircraft pilots). Although vibrotactile displays can be applied to many parts of the body, recent applications have focused on torso-based displays that egocentrically reference distal targets. However, these displays may be poorly suited to convey elevation because of the generally cylindrical shape of the human torso. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the relative effectiveness of handheld vibrotactile displays configured either in a cylindrical or spherical-shape as compared to a torso-based display. Due to its shape, the spherical display was predicted to facilitate superior elevation discernment; however, it was anticipated users must employ an object-centered reference point independent of the body when perceiving directionality via a handheld display. Hypothesis testing indicated participants' perception of extrapersonal elevation was improved by the spherical handheld display. Evidence was not conclusive regarding participants use of an object-centered egocenter. The use of a handheld vibrotactile display resulted in increased subjective workload scores, regardless of shape. Results from the present study suggest a spherical handheld display may be advantageous for three-dimensional tasks; however, specific applications should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).