VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS, RENDERED REALISM AND THEIR EFFECTS ON SPATIAL MEMORY
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This thesis study is designed to document the process and analyze the results of a study conducted to determine the relationship between realism in rendering and the user’s spatial memory of the space which was experienced when in virtual reality. This study is being developed in order to better establish virtual reality as a representational tool for architects when describing their design ideas to clients. Virtual reality, as a relatively new technology to the architectural profession, has relied on its ability to surprise and wow its audience, but as virtual reality becomes more ubiquitous and less novel, how and when does it become most effective? This thesis is designed to investigate one aspect of virtual reality, the realism of the environment, and draw conclusions based on that study. The study is conducted using the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2) and takes the user through three separate realism levels of the same space and then tests their memory of each environment. Their results are then used to determine their level of spatial retention of each experience giving the researchers an idea of how their comprehension of the space was affected by the level of detail present in the environment. All three virtual environments are of the same space with the realism of the environment being the only factor manipulated. This study is being conducted to determine how and when the use of virtual reality as a representational tool in architecture yields the greatest psychological benefits for the potential clients and designers who utilize the tool. It is our theory that the higher levels of realism will yield higher impact to spatial memory. Due to constraints in time and subject pool this study is being developed as an outline or initial investigation that is designed to be expanded into a larger scale study in the future.
- Architecture