Increasingly, information is presented to users in a spatial domain in which distances and orientation between objects imply some meaning. Perception of distances between objects may be influenced by actual movement through space, and distances may be represented by visual, tactual, or auditory means. This paper examines the judgment of linear path distances that were either tactually, visually, or visually and tactually presented to subjects. Tactual paths were virtually created using force-feed-back fields. Additionally, the influence of a constant simulated-friction force in terms of distance judgments was examined. Based on the method of direct estimation of magnitude, a high correlation between tactual and visual estimates for eight path lengths was found. The results of the tactual condition with simulated friction indicated that the perceived distance between felt objects can be manipulated without requiring longer movements of an input device. In general, results indicated that the spatial relations between objects can be accurately communicated by virtual tactual paths.

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