Substitutional Reality

Substitutional Reality envisions a class of Virtual Environments where physical objects are paired, with some degree of discrepancy, to a virtual counterpart in order to enhance the experience.

What is the project

In Substitutional Reality, we define a class of Virtual Environments where every physical object surrounding the user is paired to a virtual object. However, in this pairing we assume a degree of discrepancy. That is, while the user is immersed in a virtual environment and attempts to touch a virtual object s/he sees, in reality they will be touching a physical object which can differ significantly. For example, in the Virtual World they might see a virtual mug, however the real object associated to the virtual mug might be a bit smaller/larger. In a series of studies we are exploring how far this mismatch can be pushed before it significantly affects the suspension of disbelief. Our initial work focussed on a mismatch existing solely between physical and virtual objects. We are now investigating the impact of applying a mismatch in the pairing between larger objects such as furniture, or architectural features (doors, stairs, surfaces), and their combination with immaterial objects. The goal is to investigate how the substitution of these elements affects our movement behaviour.


As the cost of virtual reality technology falls it is becoming readily available within the home environment, and users are demanding more realistic experiences within the virtual space. Understanding the extent to which physical objects can be used to represent objects in the virtual world will facilitate rich immersive interactions, using the physical world around us to augment the virtual experience.