Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity in a Virtual Environment

Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity in a Virtual Environment


Virtual reality (VR) and head-mounted displays (HMDs) can be viable tools for the presentation of accurate and valid demonstrative data in the courtroom. However, having an understanding of the fundamentals of the visual system is critical such that the capabilities and limitations of these technologies are well understood.

To this end, ongoing research performed by Explico aims to evaluate visual acuity and contrast sensitivity perceived through commercially available HMDs in comparison to actual real-world scenarios.

Visual acuity refers to the clarity of vision and the ability to distinguish details of objects. Contrast sensitivity is the ability to distinguish an object from its background. From a human factors forensics perspective this becomes particularly important in the evaluation of low-light or degraded visual scenes, such as driving at night, in the fog, or when attempting to detect objects in or near the road while driving.


Participants completed three standardized vision tests through real world and VR environments using widely available HMDs (i.e. Oculus Rift, Rift S, Quest, and HTC Vive Pro).


  • Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity are limited through the HMDs tested
  • VR can be used when many visual cues can in place of fine details
  • Contrast Sensitivity Test may have been influenced by the resolution of the Displays - Natural Reflection vs Projections from 2D surfaces
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