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In this paper, we propose a VR design tool framework called DREAMSCAPE, which adopts a direct manipulation approach focusing on embody, experience, and manipulation activities in design. The framework defines a VR design process using intuitive controls without being limited by the preconceptions of conventional CAD systems. To establish and demonstrate the framework, we designed and developed a VR design tool called Dreamscape Bricks VR in Unreal Engine 4, using LEGO bricks as base components in a high-fidelity interactive design environment. We conducted user tests and administered questionnaires assessing usability, performance, and comfort. Results showed that the user experience of the tool is positive. The developed tool is expected to establish the abstract framework and provide insights into the future of VR design tools with implications on design education.
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Dreamscape Bricks VR: An Experimental
Virtual Reality Tool for Architectural Design
Oğuz Orkun Doma1, Sinan Mert Şener1,2,
1 Architectural Design Computing Program, Istanbul Technical University,
Istanbul, Turkey
2 Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University,
Istanbul, Turkey
Abstract. In this paper, we propose a VR design tool framework called
DREAMSCAPE, which adopts a direct manipulation approach focusing on
embody, experience, and manipulation activities in design. The framework
defines a VR design process using intuitive controls without being limited by the
preconceptions of conventional CAD systems. To establish and demonstrate the
framework, we designed and developed a VR design tool called Dreamscape
Bricks VR in Unreal Engine 4, using LEGO bricks as base components in a high-
fidelity interactive design environment. We conducted user tests and
administered questionnaires assessing usability, performance, and comfort.
Results showed that the user experience of the tool is positive. The developed
tool is expected to establish the abstract framework and provide insights into the
future of VR design tools with implications on design education.
Keywords: virtual reality, architectural design, VR in design education, room-
scale VR, metaverse.
1 Introduction
Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that creates a computer-simulated virtual
environment that can be explored and interacted with [1, 2]. VR has been increasingly
used in architectural design and visualization for years, providing users with an early
immersive experience of architectural products. VR can be used to understand
architectural design issues better. However, as the available VR design tools used by
architects are mostly imported from other disciplines, i.e., conventional 3D computer-
aided design (CAD) tools or adopted versions of existing architectural design tools, it
is still a long way from reaching its full potential in architectural design and education.
We conceptualized dreamscapes as a mid-ground between imagination and
perception, where designers are bodily present in their ideas while they conceive them.
The concept is not unlike dreams, where the creator of the environment is also the one
who explores and interacts with it. This is the main idea behind Dreamscape Bricks
VR, the experimental immersive virtual design environment we introduce, facilitating
users to experience their architectural creations by building and interacting with them
in virtual reality. We designed the DREAMSCAPE framework inspired by the notion
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of dreams tempting us to leave conventional preconceptions to imagine how things
could have been different instead of focusing on what things are [3]. The framework
aims to provide architectural design potentials of immersive virtual reality, which can
reach beyond the preconceptions of 3D modeling and provide users with new and
intuitive ways of seeing, perceiving, and interacting with the designed space.
This paper presents Dreamscape Bricks VR, a prototype experimental design tool
using the DREAMSCAPE framework, which was developed for use in architectural
design and education. This tool aims to provide an intuitive design environment for
users in immersive virtual reality using LEGO bricks as base design components. The
approach is anticipated not only to produce the tool itself but also to establish the
abstract framework and start a debate about the future of VR design tools and their
implications on design education.
1.1 Methodology
The use of virtual reality in architectural design promises to be more than a
representation tool or yet another CAD technology development. VR is an effective
immersive environment with many potentials for the architectural design process. To
isolate the VR design experience from the preconceptions of conventional 3D
modeling, the proposed tool must be stripped of CAD tools' existing vocabulary and
grammar. Only then the original opportunities and potentials of VR can emerge.
To overcome the issues mentioned above, we introduce an abstract VR design
framework called DREAMSCAPE (a backronym of Digital Reality Environment as A
Medium for Studio Collaboration in Architectural Production & Education). The
DREAMSCAPE framework envisions platforms for architects to simultaneously
design, collaborate and represent their architectural designs, works or sketches in VR,
using a more intuitive design environment based on real-world semantics and
interactions rather than importing and forcing the legacy CAD and 3D modeling
vocabulary and interactions to VR.
The framework proposes a more intuitive design environment based on real-world
semantics and interactions rather than importing the 3D modeling semantics and
interactions to VR. Therefore, Dreamscape Bricks VR uses LEGO pieces as modular
building components, allowing high fidelity simulation of LEGO building with the
same components and the same set of rules between digital and physical media.
To initiate and demonstrate the DREAMSCAPE framework, we developed
Dreamscape Bricks VR, an immersive virtual reality design tool that uses LEGO bricks
as base components. Then, we conducted a user test study with twelve participants to
assess the proposed design tool. Finally, the results of the test study and the insights of
the developed tool were analyzed and discussed.
2 Background and Related Work
Building models and mockups is a critical part of the conventional architectural design
process, where the model is the first step for building the design in physical reality. The
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introduction of CAD and 3D design software has enabled designers to support the
model making or even skip the physical part of the process altogether and create a
virtual model on a computer. Now, VR technology holds the promise to take this one
step further and enable designers to build a virtual model directly in the virtual medium.
However, the interaction design and optimization of existing CAD systems tend to
address the limitations of current legacy technologies. These interaction methods are
not intended for immersive VR. Modeling in VR is still a challenging task as it requires
us to reconsider the human-computer interaction in digital design while enabling users
to interact with virtual objects in a natural and intuitive way and addressing the
potentials of VR and immersive technologies.
The review of academic literature shows growing interest in the field of VR in
general and VR in architecture in particular [4, 5]. Several studies have focused on the
use of VR in education [68]. Other studies focus on VR in architectural design and
education [912], urban applications of VR [13, 14], and VR in architectural heritage
[1517]. It can be argued that the availability of consumer-level VR devices such as
Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and the increasing number of VR applications in
architecture and design motivated researchers to investigate the potential of VR
technology in design in recent years.
Currently, several commercially available VR tools can be used to create and
visualize architectural models and environments. While some VR tools primarily allow
users to visualize 3D models that are created using another modeling software [18],
others also enable users to create their model in VR environments, which we call "VR
design tools" in the current study. Table 1 shows a feature comparison of some of the
popular and commercially available VR design tools for PC VR platforms.
Table 1. Feature comparison of popular VR design tools and Dreamscape Bricks VR.
Model Creation
Adobe Medium
3D Mesh, Prefabs
Particles, Prefabs
Brush painting
3D Mesh, Prefabs
Sculpting, mesh
Tilt Brush
Particles, Prefabs
Brush painting
Microsoft Maquette
3D Mesh,
Particles, Prefabs
Sculpting, brush
painting, mesh
Masterpiece VR
3D Mesh,
Particles, Prefabs
Sculpting, brush
painting, mesh
Gravity Sketch
3D Mesh,
Particles, Prefabs
Sculpting, mesh
Dreamscape Bricks VR
Brick building
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These tools have been used to create VR environments for a wide range of
applications, such as training, education, and entertainment. However, we did not find
any VR tools that enable users to create and interact with their building intuitively,
using simulated real-life components. The work of Raikwar et al., which simulates a
physical educational assignment in VR [12], has a similar approach, yet its interactions
(such as snapping objects by defined increments, rotational snapping by defined
degrees) and graphical user interfaces (two-dimensional menu windows, buttons, drop-
down menus) are also a reflection of a conventional CAD tool in VR. In reviewed VR
design tools, object interaction methods are also heavily legacy CAD inspired (e.g.,
move, rotate, snap, select/deselect, group/ungroup, zoom in/out, undo/redo, etc.). Since
we cannot replicate these transformations and interactions with physical objects,
comparing a design activity with these tools versus a physical environment would affect
the final product with too many variables.
Dreamscape Bricks VR, which uses modular building components (i.e., virtual
LEGO pieces), is tailor-made for the current study, which can be used to compare
design processes in the physical environment versus in VR in future research.
3 Design and Development of the Tool
The main objective of the "Dreamscape Bricks VR" tool is to create an immersive
environment that enables users to interact with the virtual world in a way similar to how
they would interact with real-world objects, where they create, experience, and modify
their designs iteratively in real-time in virtual reality.
The DREAMSCAPE framework proposes a design process based on three activity
types: (1) embodying conceptual design ideas, (2) experience the preliminary design
output, (3) manipulate the design output to conceive new ideas (see Figure 1). These
three activities are carried out iteratively in spatial and temporal succession. The tool
should aid architectural design professionals and students to come up with initial design
ideas visualizing, comparing, and embodying these conceptual design ideas
interactively [19]. It should also facilitate the designers to see, experience, and discover
features and understand relationships of their design [20] as a spatial setting while
designing in an immersive virtual environment. Finally, the tool should allow users to
participate in stimulating design interactions and manipulations, enhancing the design
iterations with the opportunities of VR.
Fig. 1. The threefold design activity flow proposed by the DREAMSCAPE framework.
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The main design challenge of the tool is to create an immersive environment where
users can experience their creative ideas interactively and constructively while they are
designing them. The tool should give users the freedom to embody their ideations using
intuitive design components. The interactions with design components should be
intuitive so that users can manipulate their own design by freely attaching, detaching,
moving, removing, or modifying the design components in familiar ways from the
physical world. Table 2 shows a comparison of the workflows of legacy CAD with
point-and-click interactions and a proposal with direct manipulation approach.
Table 2. Comparing the user interactions between legacy CAD and the proposed approach when
extruding an object.
Commands and
The legacy CAD workflow forces the user to think within the possibilities of
available CAD commands. It requires training and a certain period of practice before
the users can get fluent with these interactions. Instead, our approach is a relatively
intuitive and natural interaction that requires no training.
The direct manipulation approach is based on the idea of enabling users to directly
manipulate virtual objects through the use of intuitive and straightforward visual and
physical actions [21, 22]. A direct manipulation interface can be defined as enabling
users to perform actions upon virtual objects using direct hand gestures or other direct
physical actions. This approach enables users to interact with virtual objects in a similar
way to real-world objects. Previous research has shown that the lack of intuitive direct
manipulation 3D modeling and digital prototyping tools is a major limitation compared
to VR [23, 24].
Therefore, the new VR design tool should be designed not to require users to rely on
an old design vocabulary or a new design grammar. Users should be able to manipulate
the existing design components in a natural way. Returning to intuitive design
interactions such as the intuitive use of the light pen in Sutherland's Sketchpad [25] can
facilitate innovative virtual design instead of sticking to a design vocabulary shaped by
the current limitations of legacy CAD technologies, and allow the evolution of
authentic new approaches and techniques of designing in immersive virtual reality.
In this study, we propose Dreamscape Bricks VR as an experimental immersive
virtual design environment that enables users to experience their architectural creations
using virtual LEGO pieces by building and interacting with them in VR.
The tool was developed using Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), and it is intended for PC
tethered VR systems and tested on the Oculus Rift / Rift S / Quest 2 (via Oculus Link)
and HTC Vive VR headsets. We describe the features and the implementation of
Dreamscape Bricks VR below.
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3.1 LEGO Components
The LEGO system is a well-known and popular building toy designed to be modular,
using bricks of different sizes and types that can connect to one another. This allows
the creation of complex structures through the use of the different types of LEGO pieces
as modules. There is a great potential for using LEGO bricks in architecture and design
education. The inherent variability and modularity of LEGO bricks is a significant
quality that can be leveraged to support creativity and experimentation in design.
The use of LEGO in the design, robotics, and education fields has been extensively
studied and explored by researchers and academics [2631], providing evidence that
LEGO can be used to support creativity and experimentation in design [28, 32]. The
LEGO system is also consistent and straightforward, with a rule system that is easy to
understand and follow. Furthermore, LEGO bricks provide a wide range of functions
and aesthetic expressions. These features of the LEGO system provide designers with
a great opportunity to design and simulate their ideas for real-world problems.
The high analogy between physical and digital LEGO pieces allows a direct
manipulation interface in LEGO-based CAD software. Therefore, we used LEGO
bricks as base design elements in our experimental VR design tool.
LEGO pieces are the primary building block of the LEGO system. The basic LEGO
bricks are compatible with each other in terms of design size. Although a LEGO piece
is often called a brick, brick refers to only one type of piece that has the height of three
plates. Despite the excessive varieties of pieces, we can classify the essential LEGO
pieces we use in this study under five main categories: bricks, plates, slopes, tiles (flats),
and panels (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2. LEGO pieces classified by type.
The LEGO system is a versatile tool for working in various scales and levels of
complexity. It can be used to study and design at a building component scale or at a
city layout scale. Therefore, it is important to define the human scale, which will allow
us to correlate the dimensions of the LEGO system to the dimensions of the human
body. We accept the human scale in the LEGO system to be relative to the size of a
Minifigure. When we consider the height of a Minifigure (4 cm) to be equal to the
average human height (170 cm), we can define a LEGO/human ratio of 1:42.5. Figure
3 shows the dimensions of a LEGO brick, a LEGO Minifigure 42.5 times upscaled and
compared with a human figure, and relative sizes of a LEGO brick on 42.5:1 scale.
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Although the elements of a LEGO brick are officially known as studs and tubes [33],
the patent file of LEGO bricks defines the studs as "primary projections" and tubes as
"secondary projections" [34]. Also, there is no global consensus on the name of the
other elements of a LEGO brick. For terminological consistency, the component names
used in this study are defined in Figure 4.
Fig. 3. Dimensions of a LEGO brick, a LEGO Minifigure, and a human figure compared in size
and scaled to each other.
Fig. 4. Elements of a LEGO piece illustrated.
In our experimental design tool, Dreamscape Bricks VR, users will be able to build
with virtual LEGO bricks based on the real-life connection possibilities of these
elements. The initial idea was to make the virtual LEGO pieces snap to plate height
(3.2 mm) increments in the vertical axis and half a brick wide (4 mm) increments in
horizontal axes, allowing users to place them in a 3D grid. However, feedback from the
previous study, where first-year design students evaluated the use of LEGO-based CAD
for designing life pods, revealed that the participants demanded realistic connections
that would prevent physically impossible connections, as well as structural stability
check [29]. This feedback led us to implement more realistic physical connections
between virtual bricks.
The virtual LEGO pieces were designed to follow the same building rules as physical
LEGO pieces, using a polarity-based connection algorithm. Table 3 shows the
connection socket polarity between elements of a LEGO piece. For instance, when a
stud fits into a tube, the stud is the plug (stud+), and the tube is the socket (stud-) end.
When a tube fits on a face gap, the tube is the plug (tube+), and the face gap is the
socket (tube-) end.
We used Unreal Engine 4's Blueprint Visual Scripting system to create the polarity-
based brick connection system. The plug and socket polarity was defined in the
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attachment Blueprints of Dreamscape Bricks VR. We then created and positioned the
corresponding sockets for each element in all brick types. Figure 5 shows a 2x2 brick
with its studs (four stud+ sockets), bottom gaps (four stud-), tube (one stud-, one tube+),
and face gap (one tube-) defined in Unreal Engine 4's Socket Manager as an example.
Table 3. The matrix of connection socket polarity between elements of LEGO bricks.
Bottom Gap
(tube+ / stud-)
Face Gap
Stud (stud+)
(stud+, stud-)
(stud+, stud-)
Tube (tube+ / stud-)
(tube+, tube-)
Knob (stud+ / bar-)
(stud+, stud-)
(stud+, stud-)
(bar-, bar+)
Fig. 5. Connection sockets of a 2x2 brick created and positioned in UE4's Socket Manager.
This socket polarity-based system allowed the application to simulate the same
connection rules as physical LEGO pieces.
3.2 Object Interactions
VR interaction fidelity is a measure of the objective degree of realism of user
interactions with virtual objects [35, 36]. Higher interaction fidelity, within the
limitations of the hardware, helps users adapt intuitively to the immersive virtual
environment with little learning required for interactions [2]. Prior research shows that
higher interaction fidelity also improves user experience in virtual object manipulation
tasks [37].
The interaction approach of the "Dreamscape Bricks VR" tool is based on the
concept of direct manipulation. Therefore, we designed object interactions to enable
users to manipulate the virtual objects in 3D space using intuitive hand gestures and
touch-based interactions that emulate the physical LEGO bricks building process.
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McMahan's updated Framework for Interaction Fidelity Analysis (FIFA) [35]
defines three primary factors for interaction fidelity: (1) biomechanical symmetry the
similarity degree of body movements required to perform a task in the virtual
environment to the body movements for that action in the real world, (2) input veracity
the similarity degree in which the input devices measure and capture the user actions,
and (3) control symmetry the similarity degree of control that user has over a task's
interactions in the virtual environment to the control over the task in real-world [35].
We reviewed the object interaction options and their performance according to
McMahan's framework, also considering the available hardware technology. Table 4
shows three input devices compared. As previous studies suggested [38], the VR system
controllers (Oculus Touch or HTC Vive Controllers) provide a convincingly higher
interaction fidelity with optimal biomechanical symmetry (hand movements, index
finger, and middle finger actions), optimal input veracity (accurate and reliable tracking
in wide range with low latency), and optimal control symmetry (6DoF -six degrees of
freedom- hand tracking, index, and middle finger triggers, thumbsticks and thumb
buttons) between these options.
Table 4. Reviewing the interaction fidelity of input devices available for object interactions.
Input devices
Index finger
VR controllers
(Oculus Touch
or HTC Vive
Index and
middle finger
Hand tracking
(Leap Motion
All fingers
Therefore, we decided to design Dreamscape Bricks VR's control scheme based on
the VR controllers. Figure 6 shows inputs available on Oculus Touch left controller,
mapped with a left hand's primary fingers for object interactions. Right hand and left
hand inputs and interactions are exactly mirrored, which provides a more intuitive user
experience. We used the OpenVR controller input table [39] to map these inputs for
other OpenVR-supported controllers, such as HTC Vive controllers.
We also identified the real-life object interactions that would also apply to physical
LEGO building as (1) touching an object, (2) grabbing and holding an object, (3)
moving or rotating the held object, (4) dropping an object, and two more brick building-
specific interactions, (5) connecting bricks, and (6) separating connected bricks. To
provide a high biomechanical symmetry for these interactions in VR, biomechanical
mechanisms of human hand and tool use must be investigated. Napier defined two
primary grip styles as precision grip and power grip [40]. This scheme is further
elaborated with subdivisions in other studies [4143].
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In precision grip actions, the thumb is used to support, while one or more of other
fingers apply pressure on the object [4143], which is often used when handling LEGO
bricks (grab, hold, move, and rotate actions). According to our observations, when
connecting and separating LEGO pieces, objects are often supported by the thumb and
held steady with the middle finger (and maybe other fingers), while force is applied
with index fingers. Therefore, we implemented a control scheme that enables users to
perform the same finger gestures on the Oculus Touch controller in Dreamscape Bricks
VR. The middle fingers are used to grab and hold objects, and the index fingers are
used to apply force on the virtual LEGO objects, which enables the objects being held
to attach or detach. Meanwhile, the thumbs are held or rest on the top buttons, which
are used for non-realistic interactions such as teleport locomotion, or changing user
scale (see Fig. 6).
Fig. 6. Controller input mapping and primary fingers for virtual object interactions in
Dreamscape Bricks VR.
Table 5. Object interactions mapped with inputs and feedbacks in Dreamscape Bricks VR.
Move your hand very close to an
Grab and hold
Touch the object, hold the Grip to
grab, and hold it
Grip Trigger
(middle finger)
Move and rotate
Move and rotate your hand while
holding the object
Release the Grip
Grip Trigger
(middle finger)
Connect bricks
Hold the brick, bring it closer to the
brick you want to connect it with,
apply force (squeeze the Trigger),
release the Grip
Grip Trigger
(middle finger)
Index Trigger
(index finger)
audio (click)
Separate bricks
Apply force (squeeze the Trigger),
hold the Grip, the held brick will
detach, stop applying force (release
the Trigger)
Index Trigger
(index finger)
Grip Trigger
(middle finger)
Haptic, audio
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Table 5 shows the main object interactions, user actions, inputs, and feedbacks in
Dreamscape Bricks VR.
Figure 7.a shows connecting a group of LEGO pieces onto the main body of the
building. When force is applied, a blue ghost version of the pieces held appears in the
possible connection points, based on the socket polarity rules defined earlier. Fig. 7.b
shows the top plate being separated from the rest of the building.
Fig. 7. Object interaction in Dreamscape Bricks VR: connecting and separating pieces.
All types of virtual LEGO pieces that are available in the inventory are placed on the
shelves around the virtual building platform of Dreamscape Bricks VR. Each type of
LEGO piece is placed on an invisible bricks dispenser which spawns another instance
of the same piece once the user grabs one from the shelves. This system allows rapid
and intuitive visual and spatial access to all virtual LEGO pieces.
3.3 Locomotion in VR
The sense of navigation is one of the key requirements to achieve a higher presence and
immersion within the virtual world [44, 45]. Although it gained wide research interest
through the years [4448], the design of human locomotion remains a challenge for
VR. Recent works have focused on newly released VR headsets and their capabilities
[4952]. Various locomotion techniques have been developed to address this challenge,
yet there is currently no locomotion technique that is suitable for all applications.
Boletsis's systematic review lists 11 VR locomotion techniques under four main
categories: (1) motion basedthe user's limited real-world motion enables locomotion
in VR environment, such as swinging arms to move forward, (2) room-scale-based
the user's natural physical movement is tracked and applied in VR space, (3) controller
based user navigates in VR space using controller inputs, and (4) teleportation based
user is teleported1 within the VR space [49]. Controller-based locomotion techniques
reportedly cause more motion sickness and nausea [49, 52] while requiring the
thumbsticks to be allocated for navigation. Motion-based navigation techniques require
1 Teleportation is moving to a new location in 3D space instantaneously without physical
locomotion. It can be triggered by a controller input, or an interaction in the virtual space.
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more physical effort [51, 52] and have less biomechanical symmetry in navigation
actions. Therefore, we used real-walking (room-scale-based) and point-and-teleport
(teleportation-based) as the core locomotion techniques.
In Dreamscape Bricks VR, users can navigate through the virtual space by walking
in and looking around in the real world (real-walking). However, their reach would be
limited to the available free space of the real world, which has 3 meters by 3 meters
floor area. To overcome this, users can use point-and-teleport to move anywhere in the
virtual space at any time. The user pushes the thumbstick button to start casting the
teleport marker, points it to the desired location, rotates the teleport marker with
thumbsticks to the direction to be faced, and releases the thumbstick button to teleport
to the defined location.
Teleportation is not a natural locomotion and often causes a sense of disorientation
when not implemented properly. To minimize disorientation after teleporting, a marker
shows the previous position and direction of the user. We also implemented a feature
that we call "blink" to maintain visual comfort, where the vision fades to black as the
teleport is initiated, and the new vision fades in at the new location after half a second.
Dreamscape Bricks VR's total operational area corresponds to 6 meters by 6 meters
on the default scale, twice the length of one side of the floor area. Thus, the user can
ideally reach across the corners of the VR area by walking in room-scale and teleporting
once. Users can perform all building actions using real-walking around the virtual
construction platform without teleporting. They can either change scale or use point-
and-teleport if they need to reach farther.
3.4 Rewind
In many computer programs, including the legacy CAD approach, correcting user
errors relies on the "Undo" interaction [53, 54]. In addition to undoing mistakes,
keeping a history of actions can also support designers to progressively refine their
designs by going back to a previous state and trying a different approach [5557]. Since
there is no undo interaction for error recovery in the real world, as we were thinking
about ways to roll moves back in reality without using current computer interaction
terminology, the concept of time travel and temporal rewind emerged. Rewinding time
is being used as a gameplay mechanic and a narrative device in an increasing number
of video games [58], such as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2004) where the
player can rewind time to avoid death and fix mistakes, Braid (2008) where the player
needs to rewind time to solve puzzles by reversing the effects of their previous actions,
and Life is Strange (2015) where the player makes choices that have a significant impact
on the story, which can be quickly undone to experiment with different options.
Rewinding time is consistent with how humans often think about mistakes; we often
think, "if only I had done X instead of Y," after we realize that Y was a mistake or that
Z could be a better alternative. When used for a design application in the virtual
environment, rewinding time can be a way to give the user control over their actions
and allow them to explore different design options without having to start from scratch.
Rewinding allows the users to undo their actions in Dreamscape Bricks VR. When
the user presses and holds the X and A buttons on both controllers, simultaneously to
avoid accidental inputs, time is rewound backward frame by frame, giving the user an
Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal - IxD&A, N.52, 2022, pp. 234 - 258
ethereal experience of having control over the direction of time. Rewinding time undoes
the last actions in a reversed temporal continuum, with the speed of their occurrences,
as opposed to "Undo" functions where the last step is undone instantly.
3.5 Scaling the User
The user's ability to scale is a key design feature of Dreamscape Bricks VR. The users
can scale themselves in the virtual environment relative to the LEGO bricks, to a
comfortable smaller size to place bricks with higher precision, or the size of a LEGO
Minifigure to experience the entire structure at any stage of the design process. There
are three pre-defined scales the users can switch between: (1) Lifesize bricks scale (1:1),
(2) Precision building scale (1:10), and (3) Figure-sized user scale (1:42.5). Figure 8
shows the boundaries of the 3 meters by 3 meters physical VR play space and
Dreamscape Bricks VR's design area at different scales.
Fig. 8. Dreamscape Bricks VR's building platform compared with physical play area at different
user scales.
Fig. 9. User’s point of view at (a) life-size bricks scale (1:1), (b) precision building scale (1:10),
and (c) figure-sized user scale (1:42.5).
Life-size bricks scale (1:1) makes the virtual LEGO bricks the same size in real life,
and it is helpful for seeing all the pieces at once (Fig. 8.a, Fig. 9.a).
Precision building scale (1:10) makes the virtual LEGO blocks ten times bigger than
in real life, which is useful for building with precision (Fig. 8.b, Fig. 9.b). After the
development playtests and trying other scale values, 1:10 is set as the default scale.
Figure-sized user scale (1:42.5) shrinks the user by 42.5 times, making a 170 cm tall
user the same size as a 4 cm LEGO Minifigure, and the virtual LEGO blocks are 42.5
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times bigger than in real life (Fig. 8.c, Fig. 9.c). This scale puts designers on the same
scale as the Minifigure users of the spaces they create in a hypothetical scenario where
Minifigures are human-sized, and LEGO pieces are building materials proportionally.
The user's ability to scale has a significant impact on the locomotion as well. At the
life-size scale, the user can easily see and reach the whole design area without
teleporting or walk around the virtual construction platform by moving within the
physical play area.
3.6 Save/Load System
Save/Load system stores the positions, configurations, and structural hierarchy of the
pieces that are placed on the virtual black desk. It is useful for reloading previous
models between sessions. It can also be used as a design history tool that enables
designers to iterate between different stages of their designs.
3.7 Tutorial
Dreamscape Bricks VR also features a tutorial for onboarding new users with step-by-
step instructions. Tutorials are represented as seven exhibition units located around the
building platform, each exhibition unit instructing a key feature of Dreamscape Bricks
VR: (1) teleport, (2) grab, (3) rewind time, (4) attach (connect bricks), (5) detach
(separate bricks), (6) colorize elements, and (7) change user scale.
3.8 Audio
The audio design in the virtual environment is the most important element to create a
realistic VR experience [2]. Auditory cues such as sound effects, are essential as it can
provide feedback about the actions, as well as about the status of the system.
The sound effects in Dreamscape Bricks VR are designed based on the real physical
LEGO pieces, with additional sound effects for non-realistic virtual interactions such
as teleporting or changing scale. An array of real physical LEGO foley effects are used
to emulate the sounds of virtual LEGO pieces. The sound cues of the pieces are
designed to be realistic, and simulated according to the weight, friction, and size of the
piece, and environmental parameters. Audio cues of physics collisions are also
randomly modulated within a small pitch and volume range to produce more realistic
sounds from the recorded foley sounds.
3.9 Haptics
Haptic feedback plays an essential role in creating realistic and immersive VR
experiences [59, 60]. Early studies indicate that one of the most problematic aspects of
object manipulation with VR technology is the absence of haptic feedback [61].
Although complex and natural haptic feedback as in the real world is not possible with
Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal - IxD&A, N.52, 2022, pp. 234 - 258
current consumer VR technologies, it is possible to provide haptic effects with VR
controllers [62] as shown in Table 4.
Dreamscape Bricks VR has different haptic feedback effects that fit different
interactions, such as touching an object, grabbing an object, connecting and separating
bricks, teleport initiation, teleport marker casting, and teleporting to the point (Table
5). The effects are designed to actual haptics or intensity of each interaction in Unreal
Engine 4's Haptic Feedback Effect editor, in which the frequency, amplitude, and
duration of the effect can be edited on a curve graph.
Other Features. Dreamscape Bricks VR also features a photo mode (Fig. 9.c) for
documenting the current design as a screenshot image, design statistics that show how
many pieces are used and how many of them are currently on the design platform,
backend event logging for recording the key events in sessions.
4 User Experience Evaluation
After finishing the initial development of Dreamscape Bricks VR, we conducted a test
study to evaluate the user experience of the experimental tool. The users of the tool
were asked to create a specific design with given instructions using the "Dreamscape
Bricks VR" tool (Figure 10). After completing the modeling task, we conducted four
questionnaires to evaluate the usability, presence, and comfort performance of the
experimental tool. The test users were asked to describe their experience, report
problems they encountered, and leave comments. The results of the evaluation are
presented in this section.
Fig. 10. A screenshot of Dreamscape Bricks VR from a user test session.
Minor iterations, improvements, and optimizations to the design tool were made
based on the results of these user studies as necessary in order to make the process of
design with Dreamscape Bricks VR more intuitive and natural.
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4.1 Participants
The user experience tests were conducted with 12 participants (6 females and 6 males).
The participants consist of 9 architects, 2 interior architects, and 1 urban designer. The
participants were sorted based on their professional expertise level, their familiarity
with virtual reality, and their VR application development status.
Two participants were initiates (17%), six participants were proficient (50%), and
four participants were experts (33%) in their respective design professions. Five
participants (42%) have some VR application development experience (developers),
and seven participants (58%) have no development experience (non-devs). Seven
participants (58%) stated to have used design tools in VR before, whereas five
participants (42%) have no previous design experience with a VR tool.
4.2 Apparatus
The user tests were conducted using with Oculus Rift CV1 VR headset, a pair of Oculus
Touch controllers, and three sensors for a room-scale VR setup (Fig. 8). The VR system
was tethered to a PC with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080Ti graphics card, Intel Core
i7 8700K processor, and 16 GB memory. Initial performance tests of the Dreamscape
Bricks VR application showed it to run with stable framerates of 80-90 FPS on the same
4.3 Testing Procedure and Questionnaires
After having completed the basic features tutorial, the participants were given one of
four LEGO building instructions to build in Dreamscape Bricks VR. The participants
were instructed to take their time and try out all features while building with the given
instructions. There was no time limit for the task so that the users could freely
experiment with the tool and experience the design tool with minimum pressure.
User experience evaluation was done at the end of the test to assess the experimental
Dreamscape Bricks VR tool following the completion of the task. The participants were
asked to complete four questionnaires: Nielsen's usability heuristics and Sutcliffe and
Gault's heuristic evaluation for usability testing, the Spatial Presence Experience Scale
(SPES) for evaluating presence, and the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire for
evaluating comfort.
Usability testing. Usability testing is a set of methods that have evaluators examine or
inspect usability-related aspects of a user interface [63, 64]. Nielsen and Molich define
heuristic evaluation for investigating the usability of user interface design [63, 64],
which would allow diagnosing and attending problems with an iterative design
approach [65]. Nielsen slightly modifies the original work, defining ten usability
heuristics [64, 66]. We used Nielsen's usability heuristics with a five-point Likert scale
as the first step of our usability questionnaire. The results can be seen in Table 6.
Sutcliffe and Gault propose another heuristic evaluation for virtual reality
applications, which consists of twelve heuristics considering virtual environment-
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specific principles [67]. We used Sutcliffe and Gault's heuristic evaluation with a five-
point Likert scale as the second step of our usability questionnaire (Table 7).
Presence testing. There are several questionnaires measuring spatial presence in virtual
environments. However, the Spatial Presence Experience Scale (SPES) of Hartmann et
al. is stated to measure presence more reliably since it was published in 2015 and is
more suitable for the recent VR technologies compared to earlier questionnaires such
as Presence Questionnaire (PQ) [68]. The SPES consists of twenty items, ten items
under the self-location (SL) subdomain, and another ten items under the possible
actions (PA) subdomain [69]. We used the SPES as a questionnaire with a five-point
Likert scale to measure the user presence in Dreamscape Bricks VR (Table 8).
Comfort testing. The Simulator Sickness Questionnaire (SSQ) was originally
published in 1993 [70] and still is one of the most popular simulator sickness
assessments to date [71]. The questionnaire consists of sixteen questions about
simulator sickness-like symptoms to be scored on a four-point scale ranging from 0
(none) to 3 (severe) [70]. We used the SSQ to measure the general comfort level of
users after completing the given tasks in Dreamscape Bricks VR (Table 9).
4.4 Questionnaire Results and Findings
The usability test results show that the basic features of the Dreamscape Bricks VR can
be used intuitively by the majority of users. The participants reported that they could
easily use the features and controls in the application. The ease of use of the application
is stated to be "Good" and "Very Good" by the majority of users.
Table 6 shows that the tool met the heuristics proposed by Nielsen between "Good"
and "Very Good" scores, with an average of 4.55 out of 5. "Error prevention" has the
lowest score of 4.08, which is still "Good." It is important to note that some users find
the tool cannot always prevent errors, and there is room for slight improvement.
Table 6. Nielsen's Interaction Principles evaluation of Dreamscape Bricks VR.
Visibility of system status
5: Very Good
4: Good
3: Acceptable
2: Poor
1: Very Poor
Match between system and the
real world
User control and freedom
Consistency and standards
Error prevention
Recognition rather than recall
Flexibility and efficiency of use
Aesthetic and minimalist design
Help users recognize, diagnose,
and recover from errors
Help and documentation
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Table 7 shows the tool also met the VR-specific heuristics proposed by Sutcliffe and
Gault, with an average score of 4.70 out of 5. The participants skipped the "clear turn-
taking" item since their VR session had a single-person task. "Faithful viewpoints" was
rated 5.00, indicating that the perspectives provided by the tool are very realistic. The
score of 4.75 on "navigation and orientation support" validates our locomotion design
decisions and implementations.
Table 7. Sutcliffe and Gault's Heuristic Method evaluation of Dreamscape Bricks VR.
Natural engagement
5: Very Good
4: Good
3: Acceptable
2: Poor
1: Very Poor
Compatibility with the user's task
and domain
Natural expression of action
Close coordination of action and
Realistic feedback
Faithful viewpoints
Navigation and orientation
Clear entry and exit points
Consistent departures
Support for learning
Clear turn-taking
Sense of presence
The presence test results in Table 8 show that Dreamscape Bricks VR provides a
strong sense of presence in the virtual environment. The average presence score is 4.65
out of 5. The score of SL-10 is 5.00 out of 5, which shows that all participants felt
immersed in the virtual environment. "PA-8 / It seemed to me that I could do whatever
I wanted in the virtual environment" got the lowest score of 3.58. This result was
anticipated because the environment of the tool was designed in a way that is not
distractive for the users as they focus on their design on the building platform.
Conversely, "PA-1 / The objects in the virtual environment gave me the feeling that I
could do things with them" got a score of 4.92, which shows that the virtual objects that
were intended to be interactable, i.e., bricks, provided very realistic interactions.
The results of SSQ show that the participants experienced minimal discomfort while
using the tool, with an average score of 0.28 out of 3. The tool achieved a score of 0 on
5 out of 16 items of the questionnaire. "General discomfort" and "fatigue" have a score
of 0.58, which means the participants experienced mild discomfort, probably because
of the use of the Oculus Rift VR headset that weights approximately 470 grams.
"Eyestrain" is the most reported discomfort by the participants, with a score of 1.08 out
of 3, which is still marginally above "slight" discomfort. "Fullness of head" is a
discomfort due to the filling of the sinuses, which is mostly seen in physical simulators
manipulating the acceleration of gravity. It was unexpected to see participants report
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that with a score of 0.67. However, they may have reported a discomfort caused by the
weight and physical restriction of the VR headset as the fullness of head.
Table 8. Spatial Presence Experience Scale evaluation of Dreamscape Bricks VR.
e Value
I felt like I was actually there in the virtual
4: Agree
3: Neutral
It seemed as though I actually took part in the
It was as though my true location had shifted
into the virtual environment
I felt as though I was physically present in the
virtual environment
I experienced the virtual environment as
though I had stepped into a different place
I was convinced that things were actually
happening around me
I had the feeling that I was in the middle of the
action rather than merely observing
I felt like the objects in the virtual environment
surrounded me
I experienced both the confined and open
spaces in the virtual environment as though I
was really there
I was convinced that the objects in the virtual
environment were located on the various sides
of my body
The objects in the virtual environment gave me
the feeling that I could do things with them
I had the impression that I could be active in
the virtual environment
I had the impression that I could act in the
virtual environment
I had the impression that I could reach for the
objects in the virtual environment
I felt like I could move around among the
objects in the virtual environment
I felt like I could jump into the action
The objects in the virtual environment gave me
the feeling that I could actually touch them
It seemed to me that I could do whatever I
wanted in the virtual environment
It seemed to me that I could have some effect
on things in the virtual environment, as I do in
real life
I felt that I could move freely in the virtual
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Table 9. Simulator Sickness Questionnaire evaluation of Dreamscape Bricks VR.
General discomfort
0: None
1: Slight
2: Moderate
3: Severe
Difficulty focusing
Increased salivation
Difficulty concentrating
Fullness of head
Blurred vision
Dizziness (eyes open)
Dizziness (eyes closed)
Stomach awareness
The fact that no motion sickness symptoms were reported (such as increased
salivation, nausea, vertigo stomach awareness, and burping) can be attributed to the
tool's high running performance with low latency and high frame rate, as well as
successful design and implementation of VR locomotion and virtual interactions.
The questionnaire results show that the Dreamscape Bricks VR tool has high
usability, good user presence, and low discomfort level for the users. This indicates that
the user experience of the tool is positive. The tool can be used to evaluate LEGO brick-
based architectural design activities in VR without major reservations about the user
experience and competence of the tool.
5 Conclusion
In this study, we introduced the DREAMSCAPE framework for architectural design
tools in VR, which adopts an intuitive direct manipulation approach. The proposed
framework focuses on three main design activities: embodying conceptualized ideas,
experiencing the initial design results spatially at any stage, and manipulating the
design output to conceive new ideas. The framework enables the designer to translate
ideas into virtually embodied products without being limited by the preconceptions of
legacy 3D design and CAD tools. The freedom to spatially experience and manipulate
the design at any stage is also a crucial feature that can improve the designer's
perception of the design, collection and compilation of ideas and concepts while
generating new ideas and concepts.
The DREAMSCAPE framework was demonstrated through the development of a
VR design tool called Dreamscape Bricks VR, which simulates the elements and
connection rules of physical LEGO bricks in VR. The tool was intended for architects
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and architecture students with varying levels of professional experience; therefore, it
has been designed with intuitive interactions that are accessible for novice users who
have no prior CAD or VR experience. The development of this experimental tool as the
first implementation of the framework also helped us establish, test, and further
elaborate the framework as it was evaluated with user tests.
The results of user tests showed that the Dreamscape Bricks VR tool offers high
usability, good user presence, and low discomfort level where the users stated to have
a positive and exciting experience in general. The slight discomfort levels caused by
the use of the current relatively bulky VR headset technology suggest that there is room
for ergonomic and sensory improvements for future VR hardware. Based on user tests,
we also received a lot of valuable feedback regarding user experience and suggestions
for improvement. The suggestions and comments we received from the users were used
to improve the VR design tool, usability, and user experience in VR in general.
The DREAMSCAPE framework aims to investigate the potential of virtual reality
as a design environment for architecture. As we continue to improve the framework,
we intend to use the Dreamscape Bricks VR tool in design protocols that compare the
process of architectural design in the physical environment and in VR for close to real-
world design tasks and scenarios, such as designing an interior or a public space that is
responsive to a list of design requirements.
The framework is intended to support collaborative design in the metaverse, in which
designers can work together in real-time on a shared design in a virtual space. The
collaborative design tests were out of the scope of this paper. Yet, the DREAMSCAPE
framework’s tools are expected to facilitate design collaboration in future work, where
users can design and discuss together in real-time and co-locate in the same virtual
design space, the ultimate dreamscape, regardless of their geographic location.
Dreamscape Bricks VR uses LEGO bricks as the base component. The following
implementations of the framework can focus on more complex modular components,
such as basic construction elements, generic parametric objects, furniture modules, etc.,
allowing the user to create varied designs by changing the component parameters.
Therefore, the DREAMSCAPE framework is expected to contribute to a new
understanding of design tools for future CAD and BIM applications through a more
intuitive, embodied, and responsive design process in the virtual environment instead
of directly copying the discussed legacy CAD approaches to VR.
Virtual reality is a technology with the potential to radically transform the way we
design, build and experience architecture. Soon, with the increased use of the metaverse
environments, and the introduction of more lightweight VR headsets, it is reasonable
to expect an increase in the number of professionals adopting the technology along with
a natural integration of VR into the architectural design process. The authors of this
work remain confident that similar to the essential use of flight simulators in aviation
training, VR also has the potential to become an integral part of architectural education.
Acknowledgments. This research is supported by the Research Fund of Istanbul
Technical University (ITU BAP Project ID: 41269). Ethical approval was obtained
from the ITU Social and Human Sciences - Ethics Committee for Research with Human
Subjects (SB-İNAREK) on November 27th, 2017 (application number 64). All subjects
Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal - IxD&A, N.52, 2022, pp. 234 - 258
gave voluntary written informed consent for study participation as well as for scientific
use of process outputs and research data collected.
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Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal - IxD&A, N.52, 2022, pp. 234 - 258
... In the picture of interaction in a VR world, not only the movement would be undone, but also the further actions in the world; in a way, it would be a rewinding of time. This rewinding of time has already been investigated for desktops [35,56] and, recently, for VR scenarios [21]. ...
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When we get lost in Virtual Reality (VR) or want to return to a previous location, we use the same methods of locomotion for the way back as for the way forward. This is time-consuming and requires additional physical orientation changes, increasing the risk of getting tangled in the headsets' cables. In this paper, we propose the use of undo actions to revert locomotion steps in VR. We explore eight different variations of undo actions as extensions of point\&teleport, based on the possibility to undo position and orientation changes together with two different visualizations of the undo step (discrete and continuous). We contribute the results of a controlled experiment with 24 participants investigating the efficiency and orientation of the undo techniques in a radial maze task. We found that the combination of position and orientation undo together with a discrete visualization resulted in the highest efficiency without increasing orientation errors.
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Virtual reality (VR) technology has attracted increasing interest as a medium for architectural design and experience, enabling users to interact with immersive digital environments that simulate reality in real time. This study introduces the DREAMSCAPE framework, which adopts a direct manipulation approach and emphasizes embodiment, experience, and manipulation activities during the design process. This framework aims to facilitate intuitive interactions beyond the preconceptions of traditional computer-aided design (CAD) systems. To demonstrate and establish the framework, an experimental VR design tool named Dreamscape Bricks VR has been designed and developed for this study in Unreal Engine 4, employing LEGO bricks as base components to create a high-fidelity interactive design environment. To compare the design processes between physical and virtual mediums, design experiments were conducted with a group of 14 participants consisting of architects, graduate students, and undergraduate design students. Each participant was tasked with designing a shelter and a pavilion, once using physical LEGO bricks (in situ) and once using the Dreamscape Bricks VR tool (in virtuo). The design processes in both the physical and virtual mediums were analyzed through video recordings of the participants, retrospective think-aloud protocols, and post-experiment surveys. The participants' cognitive design processes were evaluated using the Function-Behavior-Structure (FBS) framework and linkographic entropy analysis, while the Embodiment-Experience-Manipulation (EEM) taxonomy was developed to conduct a deeper analysis of the design activities observed in the session recordings that could not be reflected in the retrospective self-reports. The results revealed comparably rich cognitive design processes in both mediums. However, the VR medium exhibited significantly higher levels of embodiment and experience activities. Notably, manipulating user scale within the VR environment introduced unique design opportunities, facilitating a dynamic exploration of spatial design at various scales, which is unavailable in the physical medium. Overall, this research offers guidelines for VR design tool development, focusing on more intuitive, immersive, and user-friendly experiences. The findings of the design experiments provide insights into the use of VR and metaverse environments in architectural design and education. By offering a more immersive design experience through designing while being present inside, similar to dreamscapes, VR has the potential to unlock novel creative opportunities and enhance the design process.
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Virtual Reality (VR) is a powerful medium to design and experience architecture which researchers and practitioners are currently exploring with increasing interest. This paper investigates the impact of the use of VR in architectural design. We developed an interactive VR design tool by using the Unreal Engine 4 game engine, Dreamscape Bricks VR, in which the participants can design and build architectural models using virtual LEGO pieces via direct manipulation. We conducted design experiments comparing the physical medium and VR design processes with 14 subjects, including architects, graduate, and undergraduate design students. Each participant was asked to design a shelter and a pavilion, one with physical LEGO bricks (in situ) and another in Dreamscape Bricks VR (in virtuo). The design processes in both the physical medium and VR were analyzed by video recording of participants with retrospective think-aloud reporting and a post-experiment survey. The Function-Behavior-Structure (FBS) framework was used to analyze the participants' cognitive design process, while the Embody-Experience-Manipulate (EEM) framework was developed and used to analyze the recorded design activities. The results showed similarly rich cognitive design processes in both media. Embodying and experiencing activities were significantly higher in VR. The analysis results and participant comments indicated that the ability to change the user scale in VR provides novel opportunities for the design process that are not available in the physical medium. This study offers insight into the impact of using VR in architectural design processes and the potential and limitations of VR design tools.
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Heritage education is an activity that is increasingly present in the educational curricula of schools and museums. Cognitive mechanisms and Representation devices must be thoroughly analysed and designed in order to promote the creation of didactic paths to foster effective learning experiences. Immersive visualization technologies are well suited for gamification applications and the technological and economic accessibility of VR HMD (head-mounted display) viewers makes these technologies particularly attractive for the development of potentially more widespread methodologies. This article will describe an educational path, and the relative experimentation, on the cultural heritage focused on the production of the typical bread of the Val Pusteria area - and the rural life around it. The project was aimed at primary school children and was based on a serious game in Virtual Immersive Reality.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has made the struggles of the excluded louder and has also left them socially isolated. The article documents the implementation of one instance of Radical Placemaking, an “intangible”, community-driven and participatory placemaking process, in Kelvin Grove Urban Village (KGUV), Brisbane, Australia to tackle social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. KGUV community members were engaged in storytelling and interactive fiction online workshops to create experiential, place-based and mobile low-tech AR digital artefacts. The article expands on the methodology which involved a series of online workshops to design low-tech AR digital artefacts using digital collaboration tools (Google Classroom, Slack, Zoom) and VR environments (Mozilla Hubs). The study’s findings confirm the role of accessible AR/VR technology in enabling marginalised communities to create connectedness and community by co-creating their own authentic and diverse urban imaginaries of place and cities.
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This paper introduces a design framework for mixed reality urban exploration (MRUE), based on a concrete implementation in a historical city. The framework integrates different modalities, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and haptics-audio interfaces, as well as advanced features such as personalized recommendations, social exploration, and itinerary management. It permits to address a number of concerns regarding information overload, safety, and quality of the experience, which are not sufficiently tackled in traditional non-integrated approaches. This study presents an integrated mobile platform built on top of this framework and reflects on the lessons learned.
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The creation and usage of serious games on virtual reality (VR) and/or interactive platforms for the teaching of architecture, construction, urban planning, and other derived areas, such as security and risk prevention, require design processes, studies, and research that lead to further consolidation expansion. In that sense, this paper presents two main aims developed: the improvement of a virtual navigation system through the results of previous user studies and mixed research (quantitative and qualitative) improved based on the user perception for educational and professional uses. The VR system used is based on Unreal Engine programming of the HTC Vive sensor. This study is related to the GAME4City 3.0 and a broader project focused on gamified visualization and its educational uses in architectural and urban projects. The results reflect great interest, good usability, and high motivation for further usage for all types of users. However, an apparent resistance to deepen its use continues to be perceived in academia. Based on the research results, weak points of educational gamified systems have been identified, and the main differences and needs in user profiles’ function. With these data, progress regarding implementing this kind of system at the teaching and professional levels must be pursued.
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Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications has been investigated in several domains. As such, their application in educational settings has witnessed to a growing interest by the research community. Teachers can be assisted by AR/VR, in a way that students can strength the learning outcomes, gained during the classroom lecture. However, despite their potential has been widely assessed, there still exists a bottleneck preventing a widespread adoption in the education domain: the lack of easy to use platforms enabling teachers and students to become producers of AR/VR experiences. This paper fills this gap, by proposing a novel platform named ScoolAR, developed for didactic purposes. ScoolAR allows to create AR/VR applications without any programming skills. Up to now, there is no evidence in the state-of-art of a didactic tool that allows to create AR/VR applications without programming skills. From such premises, ScoolAR has been developed to overcome these limitations and to enable an autonomous content creation system and thus boosting more engagement and awareness in the exploitation of AR and VR applications in everyday educational scenarios. Beside describing the architectural framework of the proposed platform, this paper presents the results of experiments conducted in a real didactic scenario. Considering two group of students, the first group was assisted with the ScoolAR framework, the second one conducted the study phase with frontal lecture. The test performed proved that the first group outperformed the second one on all metrics of evaluation. Thus, the combined effort between common didactic activities and technological innovation permits to achieve superior results in terms of both knowledge and competences, especially for those disciplines (e.g. Cultural Heritage and History of Architecture and more) where the transversal learning is fundamental.
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Hand tracking enables controller-free interaction with virtual environments, which can, compared to traditional handheld controllers, make virtual reality (VR) experiences more natural and immersive. As naturalness hinges on both technological and user-based features, fine-tuning the former while assessing the latter can be used to increase usability. For a grab-and-place use case in immersive VR, we compared a prototype of a camera-based hand tracking interface (Leap Motion) with customized design elements to the standard Leap Motion application programming interface (API) and a traditional controller solution (Oculus Touch). Usability was tested in 32 young healthy participants, whose performance was analyzed in terms of accuracy, speed and errors as well as subjective experience. We found higher performance and overall usability as well as overall preference for the handheld controller compared to both controller-free solutions. While most measures did not differ between the two controller-free solutions, the modifications made to the Leap API to form our prototype led to a significant decrease in accidental drops. Our results do not support the assumption of higher naturalness for hand tracking but suggest design elements to improve the robustness of controller-free object interaction in a grab-and-place scenario.
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With the advent of computer technology, Virtual Reality (VR) became an integral part of design studios in architecture education. Researchers have been exploring how VR-enhanced design studios can be assessed from a student-centered perspective. This paper illustrates the role of teaching architectural design for developing a novel and contextual curriculum based on an analysis of student feedback. The background focuses on the development of VR-based architectural design education. The methodology frames two digital design ecosystems which are experimented in four undergraduate courses. With an ecosystem-based approach discussed in this paper, a medium-oriented and a content-oriented curriculum are offered for testing students' reaction to teaching design in VR. In both ecosystems, students are engaged with advanced digital design methods and techniques, which include 3D form-finding, building information modeling, visual programming, coding, and real-time rendering. The study screens the usage of software solutions for the creation of complex virtual environments, covering Blender, Rhinoceros, Unity, Grasshopper, and Revit. The implementation of a User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ) comparatively demonstrates the performative qualities of both digital design ecosystems. Results indicate that the intensity of interaction varied in two incomparable, but connate, levels of qualities. The findings suggest that the perspicuity aspects of student interaction bare the risk of "complicated" and "confusing" software. The results further demonstrate a conflict between task-related qualities and non-task related qualities. Additionally, interacting with VR tools in architecture design education is found attractive, stimulating, and original despite low scores on the pragmatic qualities of perspicuity, efficiency, and dependability. The data and results obtained from this study give insight into the planning of design studios in architecture education based on the use of VR and digital methods. Therefore, this study contributes to future research in the contextualization of the design teaching efforts.
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STEM education is crucial in successfully shaping future technology driven societies. It is important to engage learners from an early age with STEM in order to facilitate successful entry into relevant careers. Towards that, educational robotics are a proven, effective introduction to overall STEM concepts but also to hands-on skills. Co-creation, a marketing method, tailor made to foster participation and engagement, translated successfully in educational contexts. In this work we present a co-creative robotics curriculum for primary school education and its impact on young learners' perceptions for STEM careers. Learners co-created educational robotics activities to learn from them. A validated questionnaire for assessing the learners' perceptions for STEM careers was administered before and after the curriculum. All learners improved their perceptions for STEM careers after the co-creative robotics curriculum. This study initiates a greater endeavor for exploring the impact of co-creative robotics in learning efficacy and STEM careers engagement.
Conference Paper
Business process re-engineering is becoming a main focus in today’s efforts to overcome problems and deficits in the automotive and aerospace industries (e.g., integration in international markets, product complexity, increasing number of product variants, reduction in product development time and cost). In this paper, we investigate the steps needed to apply virtual reality (VR) for virtual prototyping (VP) to verify assembly and maintenance processes. After a review of today’s business process in vehicle prototyping, we discuss CAD-VR data integration and identify new requirements for design quality. We present several new interaction paradigms so that engineers and designers can experiment naturally with the prototype. Finally, some results of a user survey performed at BMW are presented, showing the acceptance and feasability of VP and the paradigms implemented for our key process. The results show that VR will play an important role for VP in the near future.
An increasing number of recent narrative games have incorporated the metagaming elements of rewinding and remaking choices as their core mechanics. Traditionally, narrative game designers were concerned that rewinding would break immersion and negatively affect players’ narrative experience. Although there has been research on metagaming as a whole, relatively little has been focused on the design of the rewinding mechanics and even less on empirical data regarding their impact on players. In this article, we present a theoretical framework on the structure of rewinding in narrative games, consisting of Restricted Rewind, Unrestricted Rewind, and External Rewind. To evaluate the impact of some of the main types of rewind structure, we developed three versions of an interactive narrative game called Rough Draft: a restricted rewind version, a parallel unrestricted rewind version, and a traditional no-rewind version. In a user study (n = 60), we evaluated the player experience of these three versions of Rough Draft in terms of gameplay engagement, narrative engagement, narrative transportation, and overall perceptions. Our results indicate that rewind mechanics do not negatively affect player engagement as previously believed. We also present our reflections and suggest design considerations for narrative games around rewind mechanics.