Do we see rendered surface materials differently in virtual reality? A psychophysics-based investigation

Mutian Niu, Cheng Hung Lo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Synthesized surface materials are an essential visualization element to represent and simulate the appearances of virtual objects such as product prototypes. This paper investigates whether the perception of rendered surface materials would be different between a 3D immersive/VR viewing condition and a traditional 2D one. For rendered surface materials, roughness and specularity are the two major parameters that modulate the rendering outcome. In this study, we vary the two parameters and incorporate psychophysics techniques to derive a scale for measuring the perceivable changes of material appearance. Using the perceptual scale as the basis, we run a series of surface appearance matching tasks and compare the participants’ task performances in the VR viewing mode and the 2D viewing mode. The results show that in the VR viewing mode, the participants identify the matching materials at higher levels of accuracy and precision. These findings show that the depth impression in immersive viewing environments may result in a different perceptual response to the rendered surface materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1045
Number of pages15
JournalVirtual Reality
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Design evaluation
  • Immersive viewing environment
  • Material perception
  • Material visualization
  • Virtual reality


Dive into the research topics of 'Do we see rendered surface materials differently in virtual reality? A psychophysics-based investigation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this