As master’s project I researched the area of virtual reality (VR) and 360° videos. Using VR in therapeutic contexts has been around for a long time and is well researched upon, however using 360° videos for the same purpose has not been as well explored. In order to explore if 360° videos could be of benefit in these contexts, I decided to compare a VR-application to a 360° video, both including a similar acrophobic scenario.
First I recorded a 360° video (a video where the user can look around), then I created a similar virtual environment as a VR-application using the game engine Unity together with Google VR SDK.
The study conducted included having participants view both environments, report discomfort-scores and fill in questionnaires regarding presence (a common term used in VR research). Interviews were also included in order to gain deeper knowledge of the results. The results showed, among other aspects, no significant difference in discomfort between the two environments which could be an indication that 360° videos are worth to further evaluate in these contexts.
The project resulted in an article that was accepted by the SIGRAD17 conference. This included me presenting the article at the conference. The article is called “Treating Presence as a Noun – Insights Obtained from Comparing a VE to a 360° Video”. Click here to find the article.
The project did not only contribute with results from the study, it also contributed with insights of other aspects regarding how VR is researched upon and measured, and this is the theme of the article. The conclusions include that the common term in VR research, “presence”, might not always be the one true goal for VR and I suggest other aspects I find important. I also suggest that presence should be treated in a different way if used in a study and suggest ways it could be measured.