Assessing the Effectiveness of Traditional and Virtual Reality Interfaces in Spherical Mechanism Design

[+] Author and Article Information
P. T. Evans

Manufacturing Systems Department, Southwest Research Institute

J. M. Vance

Mechanical Engineering, Virtual Reality Applications Center, Iowa State University

V. J. Dark

Psychology, Iowa State University

J. Mech. Des 121(4), 507-514 (Dec 01, 1999) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2829490 History: Received September 01, 1998; Revised September 01, 1999; Online December 11, 2007


Virtual reality (VR) interfaces have the potential to enhance the engineering design process, but before industry embraces them, the benefits must be understood and documented. The current research compared two software applications, one which uses a traditional human-computer interface (HCI) and one which uses a virtual reality HCI, that were developed to aid engineers in designing complex three-dimensional spherical mechanisms. Participants used each system to design a spherical mechanism and then evaluated the different interfaces. Participants rated their ability to interact with the computer images, their feelings about each interface, and their preferences for which interface device to use for certain tasks. The results indicated that participants preferred a traditional interface for interaction tasks and a VR interface for visual tasks. These results provide information about how to improve implementation of VR technology, specifically for complex three-dimensional design applications.

Copyright © 1999 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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