||Dorta, Tomás and LaLande, Philippe
||The Impact of Virtual Reality on the Design Process
||Digital Design Studios: Do Computers Make a Difference? [ACADIA Conference Proceedings / ISBN 1-880250-07-1] Québec City (Canada) October 22-25, 1998, pp. 138-163
||Sketching, either hand or computer generated, along with
other traditional visualization tools such as perspective drawing
have difficulty in correctly representing three dimensional objects.
Even physical models, in architecture, suffer in this regard because of inevitable scaling. The designer finds himself cut off from
the reality of the object and is prone to misinterpretations of the
object and its surrounding space and to resulting design errors.
These are sometimes not perceived until too late, once the object
has been constructed. Traditional tools use 2D media to represent
3D objects and only manage to introduce the third dimension in
a limited manner (perspectives, not only tedious to construct, are
static). This scenario affects the design process, particularly the
cycle of proposal, verification and correction of design hypotheses as well as the cognitive aspects that condition the designer’s
visualization of the designed object.
In most cases, computer graphics mimic, through its interface, the traditional way of doing things. The architectural model
is parametricized with little regard for visualization. No allowance is made for the change in the medium of graphic representation. Moreover, effort is not made to capitalize on the advantages of numerical calculation to propose new interfaces and
new dimensions in object visualization.
Virtual Reality (VR), seen not only as technology but as experience, brings the 3D object, abstractly viewed by traditional means,
into clearer focus and provides us with these new dimensions.
Errors due to abstracted representation are reduced since the
interface is always three dimensional and the interactions intuitively made in real time thus allowing the designer to experience
the presence of the designed object very quickly.
At the École de design industriel of the Faculté
d’aménagement, we have run tests using non-immersive VR–one
passive (comprehension) and another active (design). This project,
involving a group of 72 students during a period of six weeks
(6h/week), aimed at analyzing the impact of VR as a visualization tool on the design process versus traditional tools. The results,
described in this presentation, shed light on the effect of VR on the
creative process as such, as well as on the quality of the results
produced by that process.
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