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Although immersive virtual environments (IVEs) have been increasingly applied to building design, they mostly provide audio and visual perception to users, but not thermoception. This is a significant limitation, because thermal state (i.e., thermal sensation, thermal comfort, and thermal acceptability) plays an important role in understanding human-building interactions during design. Mixed immersive virtual environments (MIVEs), i.e., combining IVEs with a climate chamber, are a potential solution to thermoception analysis during building design. Experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that participants’ virtual experience did not significantly alter their thermal state compared to their in-situ experience. Response variables were the control temperature distribution over thermal state scales, the thermal state vote distribution over thermal state scales at a certain temperature step, and the physiological responses. The results show that the first two response variables were not significantly different between the in-situ and the MIVE experiments. Due to wearing the head mounted display in the MIVE experiments, the forehead skin temperatures were significantly higher than those in the in-situ experiments in most cases. However, such difference in skin temperatures did not affect the general thermal state. MIVEs are potentially a reliable apparatus to collect thermal state data for design decision-making.
Dr. Yimin Zhu is a professor and holder of the Pulte Homes Endowed Professorship in the Bert S. Turner Department of Construction Management at Louisiana State University. He has more than 20 years of academic teaching, research, and industry experiences. Between 2000 and 2001 he was a visiting professor in the Department of Building Construction at Georgia Institute of Technology. He served as Assistant Professor from 2004 to 2010, and Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director from 2010 to 2013 in the OHL School of Construction at Florida International University. In addition, Dr. Zhu has worked at the Hartsfield-Jackson Development Program in Atlanta, Citadon in San Francisco, and Timberline Software Corporation in Beaverton, Oregon.
Dr. Zhu’s research focuses on computing for built environment design and engineering. His research was funded by various state and federal agencies including the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. He has published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers and is a specialty editor for the Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering and an editorial board member of the International Journal of Construction Management.