Reality Rifts

Wonder-ful Interfaces by Disrupting Perceptual Causality

ACM CHI 2023
Lung-Pan Cheng, Yi Chen, Yi-Hao Peng, and Christian Holz
Reality Rifts


Reality Rifts are interfaces between the physical and the virtual reality, where incoherent observations of physical behavior lead users to imagine comprehensive and plausible end-to-end dynamics. Reality Rifts emerge in interactive physical systems that lack one or more components that are central to their operation, yet where the physical end-to-end interaction persists with plausible outcomes. Even in the presence of a Reality Rift, users can still interact with a system—much like they would with the unaltered and complete counterpart—leading them to implicitly infer the existence and imagine the behavior of the lacking components from observable phenomena and outcomes. Therefore, dynamic systems with Reality Rifts trigger doubt, curiosity, and rumination—a sense of wonder that users experience when observing a Reality Rift due to their innate curiosity. In this paper, we explore how interactive systems can elicit and guide the user’s imagination by integrating Reality Rifts. We outline the design process for opening a Reality Rift in interactive physical systems, describe the resulting design space, and explore it through six characteristic prototypes. To understand to what extent and with which qualities these prototypes indeed induce a sense of wonder during an interaction, we evaluated Reality Rifts in the form of a field deployment with 50 participants. We discuss participants’ behavior and derive factors for the implementation of future wonder-ful experiences.



Lung-Pan Cheng, Yi Chen, Yi-Hao Peng, and Christian Holz. Reality Rifts: Wonder-ful Interfaces by Disrupting Perceptual Causality. In Proceedings of ACM CHI 2023.