Bridging Designer-User Gap with a Virtual Reality-based Empathic Design Approach: Contextual Information Details

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Hu, Xinhui (1); Casakin, Hernan (2); Georgiev, Georgi V. (1)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Center for Ubiquitous Computing, University of Oulu; 2: School of Architecture, Ariel University
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 0797-0806
DOI number:


Without shared experiences, empathy gaps between designers and users are difficult to bridge. Advancing Virtual Reality (VR) has shed new light on this regard by enabling designers to simulate and experience their users' living scenarios in a virtual environment (VE). However, implementing VR-based empathetic design approach requires dealing with critical design questions, such as: (1) whether VR operators can develop empathy for unfamiliar user groups solely based on objective experience and (2) whether VR operators can utilize task-irrelevant contextual information in the VEs. To explore these issues, we designed an experiment based on two VEs with varying levels of detail that simulated the scenes viewed by people with red-green color vision deficiency (CVD). Participants were randomly assigned to either detail-rich or detail-simple VEs to complete neutral item-searching tasks. Results indicate that objective and neutral experience alone cannot elicit empathy towards users, and VR operating designers will utilize task-irrelevant contextual information.

Keywords: Virtual reality, Empathy, User centred design, Design methods, Experience design

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