Research Papers

An Industry Case Study: Investigating Early Design Decision Making in Virtual Reality

[+] Author and Article Information
Leif P. Berg

Human-Computer Interaction Graduate Program, Mechanical Engineering Department,
Iowa State University,
Ames, IA 50011
e-mail: leif.berg@gmail.com

Judy M. Vance

ASME Fellow
Mechanical Engineering Department,
Iowa State University,
Ames, IA 50011
e-mail: jmvance@iastate.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF COMPUTING AND INFORMATION SCIENCE IN ENGINEERING. Manuscript received June 17, 2015; final manuscript received July 17, 2016; published online November 7, 2016. Editor: Bahram Ravani.

J. Comput. Inf. Sci. Eng 17(1), 011001 (Nov 07, 2016) (7 pages) Paper No: JCISE-15-1200; doi: 10.1115/1.4034267 History: Received June 17, 2015; Revised July 17, 2016

The research presented here describes an industry case study of the use of immersive virtual reality (VR) as a general design tool with a focus on the decision making process. A group of design and manufacturing engineers, who were involved in an active new product development project, were invited to participate in three design reviews in an immersive environment. Observations, interviews, and focus groups were conducted to evaluate the effect of using this interface on decision making in early product design. Because the team members were actively engaged in a current product design task, they were motivated to use the immersive technology to address specific challenges they needed to solve to move forward with detailed product design. This case study takes the approach of asking not only what can users do from a technology standpoint but also how their actions in the virtual environment influence decision making. The results clearly show that the team identified design issues and potential solutions that were not identified or verified using traditional computer tools. The design changes that were the outcome of the experience were implemented in the final product design. Another result was that software familiarity played a significant role in the comfort level and subsequent effectiveness of the team discussions. Finally, participants commented on how the immersive VR environment encouraged an increased sense of team engagement that led to better discussions and fuller participation of the team members in the decision process.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Design engineer manipulating a component with Wii Remote

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Immersive projection facility: METaL (Multimodal Experimental Testbed and Laboratory). Product geometry is hidden in this figure because of intellectual property considerations.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Design team investigating clearances




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