This article addresses some of the challenges involved with creating a stereoscopic video augmented reality “X-ray vision” display for near-field applications, which enables presentation of computer-generated objects as if they lie behind a real object surface, while maintaining the ability to effectively perceive information that might be present on that surface. To achieve this, we propose a method in which patterns consisting of randomly distributed dots are overlaid onto the real surface prior to the rendering of a virtual object behind the real surface using stereoscopic disparity. It was hypothesized that, even though the virtual object is occluding the real object’s surface, the addition of the random dot patterns should increase the strength of the binocular disparity cue, resulting in improved performance in localizing the virtual object behind the surface. In Phase I of the experiment reported here, the feasibility of the display principle was confirmed, and concurrently the effects of relative dot size and dot density on the presence and sensitivity of any perceptual bias in localizing the virtual object within the vicinity of a flat, real surface with a periodic texture were assessed. In Phase II, the effect of relative dot size and dot density on perceiving the impression of transparency of the same real surface while preserving detection of surface information was investigated. Results revealed an advantage of the proposed method in comparison with the “No Pattern” condition for the transparency ratings. Surface information preservation was also shown to decrease with increasing dot density and relative dot size.

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