(Universität Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany)

Keywords: visual perception, VR, user study

Recent improvements in the development of virtual reality technologies, allow for digital reconstructions to be explored in a more realistic and user friendly virtual environment. By comparing the perception of virtually reconstructed historical buildings via Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) with the perception of the actual buildings one can highlight salient differences and integrate this knowledge into future work. In our study we compared and analyzed the perception of historical buildings in virtual reality with the local perception of the actual buildings. Our main goal was the development of a detailed overview of the most differentiated perceptual aspects. To achieve this, we conducted a comparative study about the virtual and actual perception of three historical buildings – a church, an historical tower and a 19th century villa – from Schwandorf (Bavaria). The first part examined the perceptual aspects of those buildings in Schwandorf locally. 16 persons were asked to fill out a questionnaire about the estimated height and age of the buildings and their aesthetic impressions. For the second part the same three buildings from Schwandorf were digitally reconstructed with Blender and texturized via the Quixel material library. Using an HTC Vive, 15 people took part in the virtual reality study and filled out a digital questionnaire. In the end, answers from both parts were compared. It turned out that the estimation of height and age of digital reconstructed buildings seemed to differ while the assignment of adjectives were rather similar during both studies. By comparing both questionnaires about the perception of the three buildings in virtual reality and locally, it showed that the composition of the virtual environment affected the perception of digital reconstructed buildings via Head-Mounted Display much stronger than their textual appearance. However, the height of every building was overestimated by the majority of both evaluations.