We present SoftAR, a novel spatial augmented reality (AR) technique based on a pseudo-haptics mechanism that visually manipulates the sense of softness perceived by a user pushing a soft physical object. Considering the limitations of projection-based approaches that change only the surface appearance of a physical object, we propose two projection visual effects, i.e., surface deformation effect (SDE) and body appearance effect (BAE), on the basis of the observations of humans pushing physical objects. The SDE visualizes a two-dimensional deformation of the object surface with a controlled softness parameter, and BAE changes the color of the pushing hand. Through psychophysical experiments, we confirm that the SDE can manipulate softness perception such that the participant perceives significantly greater softness than the actual softness. Furthermore, fBAE, in which BAE is applied only for the finger area, significantly enhances manipulation of the perception of softness. We create a computational model that estimates perceived softness when SDE+fBAE is applied. We construct a prototype SoftAR system in which two application frameworks are implemented. The softness adjustment allows a user to adjust the softness parameter of a physical object, and the softness transfer allows the user to replace the softness with that of another object. © 1995-2012 IEEE.
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