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authors Dorta, Tomás and LaLande, Philippe
year 1998
title The Impact of Virtual Reality on the Design Process
source 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
summary 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.

series ACADIA
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