XR Framework – a software suite for creating and running multi-user studies in virtual and augmented reality

Autoren: Ropelato, Menozzi

Kategorie: AR- und VR-gestützte Ausbildung

Chair: Kluge

Recently, there has been a trend towards performing such user studies in virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). Reasons for this are various factors such as safety concerns when research questions require confronting users with potentially dangerous situations, time and cost-effectiveness in studies requiring a difficult and time-consuming setup, or ethical questions when involving humans or animals. VR and AR technologies further enable studies to be executed in a controlled environment and under replicable settings.
In the following, the term extended reality (XR) will be used when referring to a combination of VR and AR.
Despite the many advantages of performing user studies in XR, there are a few limitations to be considered when transferring user studies from real-life into a virtual environment. First of all, the setup of a believable environment in XR comes with a high effort as, in most settings, a team of software engineers needs to replicate a real-world scenario in XR and develop mechanisms to mimic means of interacting with the virtual objects. This greatly limits the accessibility of this technology to researchers who do not have the expertise in creating such XR experiences themselves. Furthermore, most XR experiments are tailored to one single usecase and bound to a specific hardware setup, making it difficult to replicate experiments in different locations, which directly affects the number of participants that can be recruited for a study.

We have addressed the mentioned limitations and built a development framework for XR studies that enables laypeople to efficiently create their own interactive XR environments without the need to write code or deal with configuration of hardware equipment. Once an experiment has been defined, it can be made accessible to all users with access to XR equipment. The framework features real-time multi-user interaction online collection of test results.

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Ropelato, Menozzi