Artifacts in an environment afford to their observers utility and function directly through specific object characteristics (e.g., mediums, surfaces, substances). Virtual environments (VEs) similarly seek to afford specific utility to their users, whether it is for training, education, or entertainment, thus it seems natural to consider basing VE designs on affordances. Such affordance-based design should yield significant benefits by providing designs that behave in more understandable and intuitive manners. These designs should be easier to learn, adapt better to user tasks, and frustrate users less by allowing use of the same skills acquired via real-world interactions. In order to realize affordance-based VE designs, the types of appropriate affordances and means of realizing these affordances must be identified. Currently, however, affordances lack a theoretical and operational basis for such application. The present paper suggests functions that affordances should support and provides a conceptual model for realizing affordances based on sensory-stimuli-substitution schemes.

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