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Community engagement with virtual and augmented reality

‘CEE VR: Community engagement with eye-tracking analytics in virtual reality’

University of Sheffield


CEE VR is an immersive gaming experience developed to engage local communities in the redevelopment of their neighbourhoods. The project aims to understand the experience, interaction, and perception of space by engaging research participants in an immersive virtual reality walkthrough. Eye tracking is the process of measuring and recording an individual's gaze positions  and  eye movements. This study employs eye tracking to study users’ ways of reasoning and problem solving in spatial navigation scenarios, which helps give insight into how urban areas are used. The immersive virtual reality experience was a playful treasure-hunt task. Participants are dropped off inside a bus stop in the market square and tasked with finding three hidden objects in predefined areas of the digital space and bring them back to a basket placed near the virtual bus stop. The cross-disciplinary approach brings together urban planning, urban design, gaming, and virtual reality.

The research team's engagements at the digital Shirebrook Market fostered intergenerational dialogue amongst participants, and the participant's eye-tracking data has been used to uncover strategies used in visual exploration, way finding, and insights into behaviour. CEE VR demonstrates the potential impact and value of immersive VR as a community engagement tool.