This thesis uses the HTC Vive in Unity to compare two different types of object interaction systems in order to determine the effectiveness of physics based interaction systems in a virtual environment. The research problem that motivates this project is the fact that there is no standardized method for defining successful object interaction techniques in VR. There are numerous interaction techniques in VR that fall short of simulating realistic object interaction. This project explores a physics based interaction system and examines how effective it is by comparing it to a non-physics based system. A model house with various interactable objects is created to compare the two interaction systems. The first system, the naive interaction system, parents an object to the controller model, allowing the user to pick up and throw things in a very simple fashion. This system is compared to a physics based Newtonian system that takes into account mass and velocity during object interactions. The Newtonian system promotes a much deeper sense of immersion for a user due to how accurately the system simulates real life physical interactions. It is clear that creating a high level of mental and physical presence is crucial for a VR experience. Object interaction systems are an integral component of a VR experience that directly contribute to the realism and levels of virtual presence that a user achieves within a virtual environment. The results of this project conclude that physics based interaction systems provide levels of realism and immersion that the naive systems currently cannot achieve The results of this project are beneficial because they demonstrate the positive impact physics based interaction systems have on a VR experience and the need for improved physics systems for the future of VR development.


Byrnes, Denise


Computer Science


Computer Sciences | Graphics and Human Computer Interfaces | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics | Software Engineering


VirtualReality, GameDesign, Physics, Newtonian, ComputerScience, Graphics

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



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