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Paper w78-2011-Paper-108:
THE EFFICACY OF REALISTIC VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS IN CAPTURING USER EXPERIENCE OF BUILDINGS

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D Greenwood, S Lockley, O Jones, P Jones

THE EFFICACY OF REALISTIC VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS IN CAPTURING USER EXPERIENCE OF BUILDINGS

Abstract: Virtual models can offer early and inexpensive proxies of how the real environment will be experienced by its users. However, until relatively recently, the usefulness of virtual models has been constrained by the technological limitations of the software and hardware. Games engines now offer the industry a way to import multiple 3d formats to streamline workflow, with far greater realism and complex interactions with the created virtual environment. In order to be accepted as a reliable tool for design development and problem solving in architecture, engineering and construction, these virtual experiences must be capable of producing user-feedback that is credible. The assumption that a model of human experience from a virtual environment can be a dependable representation of how the real environment will be experienced needs to be tested. Such tests have hitherto offered inconclusive results and the paper reports on the early stages of a current project that aims to redress this. The use of equipment familiar to cognitive psychologists, such as lightweight head-mounted eye tracking systems, should enable comparisons to be made between user-experiences of real environments and their realistic virtual counterparts. Should the virtual environments be shown to communicate similar physiological responses from the participants and deliver similar experiential qualities when compared to the real environment, then it can be argued that they offer realistic visual representations and accurate representations of experience.

Keywords: Architectural design, Games, User experience, Virtual environments

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