VSS, May 13-18

Perceived Humanness Bias in Additive Light Model Displays

Poster Presentation 53.444: Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm EDT, Pavilion Poster 5
Session: Perception and Action: Virtual environments

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Austin Erickson1 (), Gerd Bruder1, Gregory Welch1, Isaac Bynum2, Tabitha Peck2, Jessica Good2; 1University of Central Florida, 2Davidson College

Additive light model displays, such as optical see-through augmented reality displays, create imagery by adding light over a physical scene. While these types of displays are commonly used, they are limited in their ability to display dark, low-luminance colors. As a result of this, these displays cannot render the color black and other similar colors, and instead the resulting color is rendered as completely transparent. This optical limitation introduces perceptual problems, as virtual imagery with dark colors appears semi-transparent, while lighter colored imagery is more opaque. We generated an image set of virtual humans that captures the peculiarities of imagery shown on an additive display by performing a perceptual matching task between imagery shown on a Microsoft HoloLens and imagery shown on a flat panel display. We then used this image set to run an online user study to explore whether this optical limitation introduces bias in user perception of virtual humans of different skin colors. We evaluated virtual avatars and virtual humans at different opacity levels ranging from how they currently appear on the Microsoft HoloLens, to how they would appear on a display without transparency and color blending issues. Our results indicate that, regardless of skin tone, the perceived humanness of the virtual humans and avatars decreases with respect to opacity level. As a result of this, virtual humans with darker skin tones are perceived as less human compared to those with lighter skin tones. This result suggests that there may be an unintentional racial bias when using applications involving telepresence or virtual humans on additive light model displays. While optical and hardware solutions to this problem are likely years away, we emphasize that future work should investigate how some of these perceptual issues may be overcome via software-based methods.