Adapting Virtual Reality for the Participatory Design of Work Environments
This paper describes the evolution of a standard PC-based virtual reality tool which has been adapted for the participatory design of work environments. Tool features, method of control and combination with other participatory design tools are investigated in the context of a particular design situation. This research is aimed at participatory design facilitators to aid in the adaptation of similar virtual reality systems for a similar purpose. The context of this work is the Envisionment Workshop, in which a group of workers participate with design experts in using full-scale modelling, pedagogical drama, and democratic meetings to (re)design their workplace. A series of prototypes have been developed and tested during the design of a new university in the region using a case study methodology to provide high ecological validity. These were preceded by a task analysis, brainstorming and pilot study. The results suggest that such a tool can be constructed and used successfully by a small group of people using projected virtual reality. However larger groups suffer from a bottleneck at the input devices such that a virtual reality expert must take control and build what the participants wish.