During the fall semester of 2016, researchers and students are working at VR-Lab on studying the implications and added value for latest advances in mobile-based Virtual Reality on assessing people’s perceptions and behavioral responses to natural and built environments. The following topics are been investigated: VR for measuring livability in urban areas; VR for studying perceived safety in urban parks; and VR for studying the impact of different streetscapes on emotions.
VR for measuring livability in urban areas (Deni Ruggeri, Peter Bosselmann, Ramzi Hassan, Selvia Mete, Chester Harvey): The work of NMBU students will be a part of a larger research effort bringing together faculty and researchers from NMBU and the University of California, Berkeley. The research, funded by a grant from ILP and by the Sather Fund at UC Berkeley will seek to achieve three goals 1) the refinement and final implementation of a livability audit, a methodology that would allow us to assess and compare urban environments in terms of their perceived livability. 2) a deeper understanding of how these perceptions may vary across cultures and user types. Finally, 3) the impact of physical change as a result of densification policies and urban development by focusing not only on the ‘visual impact’ of such change—which could be visualized three-dimensionally and experienced by an individuals through 3d visualization methods.
VR for studying perceived safety in urban parks (Katinka Evensen and Ramzi Hassan): Among experimental methods, photos are often used in preference studies. People’s perception of the environment and perceived safety are measured with rating scales. On-site studies lack experimental control, while photo-based preference studies have weak external validity. VR-technology can provide possibilities to recreate more realistic environments in experimental research, increasing external validity and keeping experimental control. In our on-going research project we develop and explore the effect of environmental interventions on perceived safety in two parks in Oslo using a multi-method approach. The students will explore various presentation techniques of a “walk in the park” that can be applied in experiments on perceived safety using VR-technology/VR-glasses. We are challenging the students to find 1) valid presentation techniques of the pathway and 2) explore the effect of manipulations of vegetation type, density, height and various lighting on the pathways on perceived safety.
VR for studying the impact of different streetscapes on emotions (Kostas Mouratidis and Ramzi Hassan): Using 360-degree spherical video capture with VR cameras in combination with VR headset constitute an option closer to reality than Google Street View or 3D models while also keeping the advantages of controlled research designs. Students will undertake a research project that examines how the environmental qualities of different streetscapes influence emotions. They will use VR technology for recording selected streets, they will use VR headsets for presentation to a research sample, and they will measure the sample’s experienced emotions using affective scales for environments (e.g. Russel and Pratt 1980). By the end of this study, students will a) present research findings and also b) contribute to understanding what VR methods can bring to this research field.