Technical Papers

CoVR: Cloud-Based Multiuser Virtual Reality Headset System for Project Communication of Remote Users


Inefficient communication among project stakeholders is one of the most critical issues in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. In reality, it is difficult to create a common understanding about a project among key stakeholders located remotely. The recent progress of virtual reality (VR) makes it a promising approach for interactive visualization of design, construction, and facility management. However, the lack of interactions in VR, such as data interaction, human-building interaction, and human-human interaction, has impeded the adoption of VR in the AEC industry. To fill the gaps, this paper introduces a cloud-based multiuser VR headset system called collaborative virtual reality (CoVR) that facilitates interpersonal project communication in an interactive VR environment. CoVR provides not only a shared immersive experience, but also allows interactions with the underlying simulated world and face-to-face conversations in the virtual world. A real case was used to test the usability of the CoVR system, followed by a building inspection experiment in which 71 subjects were recruited to test the comparative advantages of CoVR. Results indicate that CoVR improves interpersonal interactions in the immersive virtual environment and enhances communications in construction projects. Users of CoVR tended to perform better in a building inspection task than those who were using a single-person VR system. In practice, CoVR is expected to help project stakeholders create a shared vision before construction work commences.