The first Cross-Company Evaluation (CCE) took place in the VR-Lab of Twente University. It was attended by representatives from the various companies involved in the project, as well as the REPAR research team. The primary purpose of the meeting was to see how well the results of the first case study (e.g. the resulting VR solution) can be translated to other design domains.
The session consisted of two parts.
- The first 90 minutes were used to present the results of the case study carried out in Sub Project B. The presentation explained the various events in the case study (e.g. workshops, demonstrations, evaluations) that contributed to the final result, the ‘Virtual Printshop’. The Virtual Printshop is an interactive 3D virtual environment in which designers can conduct user studies in realistic use contexts (e.g. a printshop or office). After presenting a demonstration of this application, company representatives presented their experiences with using tools to create the Virtual Printshop. These presentations provided the audience (the other companies) with first-hand experiences with VR tools and gave clear insights in opportunitiesÂ and pitfalls. The presentations concluded with an outlook on a follow-up study, carried out in collaboration with sub project C.
- In the second part of the session, the participating companies were asked to ‘translate’ the VR solution (as presented in the first part) into a useful solution for their own company or design domain. The purpose of this part of the session is to identify similarities and differences between how various companies could benefit from VR. It is the first step towards connecting VR technologies to specific design domains or companies. The participants were divided into company groups. Each group was also supported by case study representative to exchange experiences from the case study and the use of VR in general.
The groups were asked how they would translate the presented VR solution into something useful to their company, and present these results in short final presentations to the other groups.
While the actual session data still needs to be analysed, the results of the final group presentations show that most of the groups are able to translate some of the aspects of the original VR solution into opportunities for their own domain. In addition to translating the application, the participants also identified opportunities and bottlenecks for re-using existing tools and skills already available within their company. Using the insights from the presentations, they were provided with an initial benchmark to better estimate their requirements (e.g. ‘we need something more/less realistic than what we’ve seen in the case study’) and connect them to their own situation (e.g. ‘we could use our current CAD tools for this part of the tool chain’). In general, the resulting presentations show that while a lot of 3D modelling skills could be re-used for VR applications, it remains difficult to properly define ‘behaviour’ and interaction of models and context.
Overall, the session has been a fruitful meeting for the companies as well as the researchers. The presentations by company representatives have been very useful in providing first-hand practical experiences with VR and triggered a lot of interaction between the attending companies. The results of the second part of the session will be further analysed, and hopefully contribute to identifying guidelines for successfully using VR across design domains.