Evaluating XR Techniques in Air Travel Design for Early Technology Readiness Levels
Authors: Shelley Kelsey, Chantal Trudel, Samantha Astles
Abstract: Extended Reality (XR) is an emerging technology and potential tool to support the creation of design concept sketches for remote review and evaluation. Design and engineering for air travel can be a lengthy and expensive process, interfering with rapid innovation. In the field of air travel design, researchers, designers, and engineers have been studying the use of XR (e.g., Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality) to support design workflows and comparing this technique to traditional industrial design methods. Early steps in aerospace design, i.e. research and brainstorming, have largely employed traditional methods, including sketching concepts and eliciting user feedback on early development work. In recent years, XR tools have been adopted to augment the design process and help drive innovative solutions, such as using virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for simulated architecture design. However, XR development has primarily focused on simulating experiences; comparatively fewer resources are available to support the implementation of XR in the early phases of the design workflow. In response, this study investigated the application of XR techniques to support the early stages of the air travel design workflow with a focus on the industrial design contribution to the process. Specifically, the study evaluated the use of XR techniques to support the early stages of design within the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) framework. The study used VR as a tool for 3D sketching and VR/AR hardware and software to engage users in evaluating the 3D design sketches generated using VR. The concepts generated were related to aircraft cabin concepts focused on a timely event, namely, creating concepts to support air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.The study consisted of two phases: (1) comparing sketching in VR to traditional sketching methods from the researcher’s first-hand experience; and (2) the distribution of traditional 2D versus 3D VR developed sketches for design and evaluation. In Phase 1, we compared the use of VR versus traditional methods for design sketching by way of journaling first–person experience. In Phase 2, 2D and 3D sketches developed were shared in an online survey with two user groups: designers and non-designers (general population). These groups reviewed the sketches remotely via an online survey, and their experience was evaluated using the System Usability Scale to evaluate the system (traditional 2D illustrations versus VR/AR simulation). The designers completed an additional questionnaire (Technology Acceptance Model) to evaluate the ease and usability of the use of XR techniques in designer workflow. This paper presents initial results of Phase 1: A comparison of VR vs traditional sketching. An analysis of Phase 2, with a focus on the sharing of completed designs as traditional sketches vs VR/AR simulation is underway. The findings will support the development of best practices for embedding XR within the aerospace design and evaluation process.
Keywords: aerospace, industrial design, XR, VA, AR, evaluation
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