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Influence of Virtual Reality on User Evaluation of Prototypes in the Development Process—A Comparative Study with Control Rooms for Onshore Drilling Rigs

Hinricher, Niels; König, Simon; Schröer, Chris; Backhaus, Claus

User evaluations of prototypes in virtual reality (VR) offer high potential for products that require resource-intensive prototype construction, such as drilling rigs. This study examined whether the user evaluation of a VR prototype for controlling an onshore drilling rigproduces results comparable to an evaluation in the real world. Using a between-subject design, 16 drilling experts tested a prototype in VR and reality. The experts performed three different work processes and evaluated their satisfaction based on task performance, user experience, and usability via standardized questionnaires. A test leader evaluated the effectiveness of the work process execution using a 3-level rating scheme. The number of user interactions and time on task were recorded. There were no significant differences in the effectiveness, number of interactions required, perceived usability, and satisfaction with respect to task performance. In VR, the drilling experts took significantly more time to complete tasks and rated the efficiency of the VR prototype significantly higher. Overall, the real-world evaluation provided more insights into prototype optimization. Nevertheless, several usability issues have been identified in VR. Therefore, user evaluations in VR are particularly suitable in the early development phases to identify usability issues, without the need to produce real prototypes.
Published in: Applied Sciences, 10.3390/app13148319, MDPI