We developed a novel interaction technique that allows virtual reality (VR) users to experience “weight” when hefting virtual, weightless objects. With this technique the perception of weight is evoked via constraints on the speed with which objects can be lifted. When hefted, heavier virtual objects move slower than lighter virtual objects. If lifters move faster than the lifted object, the object will fall. This constraint causes lifters to move slowly when lifting heavy objects. In two studies we showed that the size-weight illusion (SWI) is evoked when this technique is employed. The SWI occurs when two items of identical weight and different size are lifted and the smaller item is perceived as heavier than the larger item. The persistence of this illusion in VR indicates that participants bring their real-world knowledge of the relationship between size and weight to their virtual experience, and suggests that our interaction technique succeeds in making the visible tangible.

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