- Engineering; Computer Science
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In real life, the sense of touch provides information about the environment that surrounds us. It is an essential sense and a social one, as it typically implies an interaction with another person. However, even though tactile feedback is used to enhance the user experience in Virtual and Augmented Reality applications (VR/AR), tactile cues are usually rendered reactively by the system. In this paper, we design and assess a touch user interface that is built on a Head-Mounted Display (HMD) to allow peers to exchange tactile signals in VR applications. First, we explored the interface capabilities by assessing different gestures to be adopted in the reproduction of tactile signals. Then, we assessed its use in conjunction with a vibrotactile HMD in a collaborative virtual setup where users could communicate only through vibrotactile cues. Results have shown that accuracy in target localization increases as target density decreases, that swipe gestures are performed with more accuracy when supported by anchor-points, and that accuracy of rhythm reproduction decreases with pace. When applied to a collaborative task, the interface presented high usability and allowed subjects to fully use tactile feedback as a means for intercommunication with their partners.