A user-centered analysis of virtual reality in design review: Comparing three-dimensional perception and presence between immersive and non-immersive environments
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Over the last few years, the adoption of Virtual Reality (VR) solutions by the construction industry has grown rapidly worldwide. These have been developed and used for different purposes, including collaborative design review. Nonetheless, the extent to which such systems enhance the cognitive capabilities of construction professionals involved in the design review activity is still unclear. Knowledge on the cognitive benefits provided by Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) technology is essential to elicit its usefulness and effectiveness, as well as to provide development directions. In this context, this study sought to quantitatively verify the ability of an IVR system in providing users with enhanced three-dimensional (3D) perception of a BIM (Building Information Modeling) model and greater levels of presence in the virtual environment (VE) compared to a non-immersive conventional VR system. The method compares users’ 3D perception and levels of presence between two modes of presentation (IVR vs. non-immersive VR). The study also examines the relationship between 3D perception and presence within each virtual environment. Controlling for individual factors and order effects, findings indicate that in comparison to a conventional workstation, IVR technology improves 3D perception of the architectural model and provides more immersive experiences. Results also suggest no association between 3D perception and presence in virtual environments, contrary to expectations. The ability of IVR technology in providing current and future workforce with a significantly better understanding of the three-dimensional relationships of architectural models and greater levels of presence in the review task is expected to benefit collaborative design review.