Virtual Reality has great potential to become a usable design tool for the planning of light and colour in buildings. The technical development has provided us with better computer graphics and faster rendering techniques. However, the reliability and usability is delimited by lack of knowledge about how humans perceive spatial colour phenomena. The setting up of parameters for material properties in light calculation software is done arbitrarily. We present a comparison between a real room and a digital model evaluated on a desktop PC and in an Immersive Projection Technology (IPT) type system. Data were collected from video recorded interviews and questionnaires. The participants assessed the appearance of light, colours and space. They also evaluated their involvement in solving this task, and their presence in each environment. Our results highlight the benefits and disadvantages of the real and virtual models. The participants had difficulties in estimating the size of both the desktop room and the room in the ITP system. The comparison of real and virtual rooms revealed unsatisfying differences in shadowing and colour appearance. We defined the magnitude of perceived colour reflections in the real room, and elaborated with some of the parameters in Lightscape/3dsmax6.
The main goal of our project is to make VR applications usable for the planning of light and color. To enable reliable simulations, we both need to develop better rendering methods and carefully study the appearance of light and color in real rooms and in virtual environments. Assessments of real rooms are compared to simulations of the same rooms in immersive Virtual Reality (3D-cube). In this paper, we will present the outcome of a pilot study and discuss specific problems associated with the prospect of comparing reality to Virtual Reality. We will account for the experience of the room and go into details on the experience and perception of light. Indeed, the problems fo getting enough light in the 3D-cube and of simulating the light situation of a real room affect color appearance.