The Dark Side of Perceptual Manipulations in Virtual Reality
“Virtual-Physical Perceptual Manipulations” (VPPMs) such as redirected walking and haptics expand the user’s capacity to interact with Virtual Reality (VR) beyond what would ordinarily physically be possible. VPPMs leverage knowledge of the limits of human perception to effect changes in the user’s physical movements, becoming able to (perceptibly and imperceptibly) nudge their physical actions to enhance interactivity in VR. We explore the risks posed by the malicious use of VPPMs. First, we define, conceptualize and demonstrate the existence of VPPMs. Next, using speculative design workshops, we explore and characterize the threats/risks posed, proposing mitigations and preventative recommendations against the malicious use of VPPMs. Finally, we implement two sample applications to demonstrate how existing VPPMs could be trivially subverted to create the potential for physical harm. This paper aims to raise awareness that the current way we apply and publish VPPMs can lead to malicious exploits of our perceptual vulnerabilities.