Lighting perception in virtual reality

This research records the results from an experiment conducted at the University of Oregon in 2019 (funded by a $75k grant from PNNL as a subaward from the U.S. Department of Energy). The research compares perceptions of comfort, pleasantness, contrast, brightness, glare, and distribution between electric lighting scenes viewed in a real space and that same space presented in a VR headset. Lighting conditions ranged from evenly lit and bright to very dim and highly contrasted.

Results showed that for scene conditions that were generally well-lit, the responses recorded in VR did not differ significnalty from those viewed in the real space. For scenes that were poorly lit (too dim or highly contrasted), responses recorded in VR revealed systematic and significant differences from those in the real-world environment.

This research was published in Lighting Research & Technology in 2021 and presented at the DOE Solid State Lighting R&D Workshop in 2019. The results have motivated additional research to compare different VR manufacturers to web VR and web-based displays ($95k grant, ongoing). This work was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, but will resume with in-person experiments in Winter, 2022.

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