Comparison of Archaeological Data Visualization on Different Platforms

Yifei Wang (2023 Spring)


The main theme of my first project in the class is to explore the value of VR visualization of archaeological data. VR visualization allows users to interact with complex and remote archaeological sites in an immersive way that is not possible with conventional methods. To compare different visualization experiences, I use three products that represent different stages of the industry chain: CyArk, Open Heritage 3D, and Google Arts & Culture. CyArk is a non-profit organization that collects and provides high-quality 3D data of cultural heritage sites. Open Heritage 3D is a collaborative project that offers an open database for accessing and downloading these 3D datasets for education, research, and other non-commercial uses. Google Arts & Culture is a platform that delivers the knowledge and stories behind these sites to a wide audience through various media formats, including VR. These three products enable users to visualize archaeological data on different devices: mobile, laptop, and Oculus Quest 2.

User Feedback Collection

One of the key steps in this project is to collect user feedback, as it can help us understand how people perceive and evaluate different experiences. We have created a feedback form that covers various aspects of each experience, such as installation, learning cost, realism, fineness, loading latency, capacity, etc. The form uses a 5-point Likert scale to measure user satisfaction. If you are interested in further details of the form, you can access it through this link. We have also conducted an in-class activity to gather feedback from 14 participants. Here is a summary of the results:

Mobile Experience

The mobile experience provided by Google Arts & Culture received mostly positive feedback from the users. The average ratings for installation & setup complexity, learning cost, and loading latency were above 4, indicating that the users found the experience easy to install and use, and fast to load. The other aspects also received above-average ratings (above 3), suggesting that there were no major drawbacks of the product.

Laptop Experience

The laptop experience provided by CyArk received the best feedback among the three experiences. The users rated highly on various aspects, such as installation & setup complexity, learning cost, realism, fineness, and capacity. The average ratings for these aspects were above 4, implying that the users were impressed by the quality and detail of the experience. The other aspects also received ratings close to 4, showing that there were no significant issues with the product.

VR Experience

The VR experience provided by Open Heritage 3D received the worst feedback among the three experiences. The users did not rate any aspect very positively; only installation & setup complexity received an average rating close to 4. Most aspects received above-average ratings (above 3), but they were lower than those of the other two experiences. The users gave negative feedback (below 3) on loading latency and fineness; they complained that the experience took too long to load and the point cloud display was not very refined.

Here's the link for the full responses to the form.

Final Evaluation

Based on the feedback data collected by the in-class activity, here's a comprehensive final evaluation of the three experiences:

Mobile Experience by Google Arts & Culture

Laptop Experience by CyArk

VR Experience by Open Heritage 3D


This research suggests that Open Heritage 3D does not offer a significantly enhanced VR experience compared to other platforms. However, based on the feedback from users, many of the issues they encountered were related to the product itself, rather than the VR technology. This is understandable since Open Heritage 3D’s main objective is to provide a database of cultural heritage sites, rather than an immersive data visualization tool. A more advanced VR product, such as a hypothetical Google Arts & Culture VR (similar to Google Earth VR), would likely deliver a much more amazing experience.