A Qualitative Study on the Effects of Real-World Stimuli and Place Familiarity on Presence
We present a qualitative study investigating the effects of real-world stimuli and place familiarity on presence. The study was carried out using a prototype Virtual Reality system designed for participatory urban planning. The system uses consumer grade VR hardware for viewing 3D virtual models of future architectural plans at an urban site. We collected comprehensive qualitative data from 16 participants who used the VR system on-site to immersively view and vote on three different future plans at the real-world location while exposed to ambient non-visual stimuli emanating from the physical location. We provide qualitative findings regarding presence along the four recurrent themes revealed by the thematic analysis of the research data: visual content, impact of physical surroundings, navigation and interaction, and suitability for participatory urban planning. We also analyse the findings in terms of feasibility of such on-site VR experience and the applicability of large-scale city models for VR.