Figueroa, P., Bischof, W. F., Boulanger, P. and Hoover, H. J. (2005). Efficient Comparison of Platform Alternatives in Interactive Virtual Reality Applications. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 62, 73-103.
Virtual Reality applications consist of an integrated combination of elements, such as hardware devices, interaction techniques, and content, in different modalities and qualities. Designers of VR applications select combinations of such elements that allow users to accomplish their tasks, and it is feasible that more than one combination of such values will satisfy the users needs. Unfortunately, current development environments, methodologies, and techniques in the field of virtual reality often preclude the exploration of the design alternatives, due to coverage or cost limitations. A limited number of options are covered by any given software development environment, and the development cost of new prototypes in such development platforms is too high to be considered as an evaluation tool. In this paper, we present a methodology for partial (i.e. hardware and interaction techniques alternatives) exploration of the design space of a virtual reality application, based on the creation of reusable components and a standard evaluation of alternatives. Since the cost of developing several versions of an application can be reduced by reusing elements from others, this method allows designers to evaluate the performance and user preferences of several implementations. As a proof of concept, we developed four versions of a simple matching application in different virtual reality platforms. Results of this study show how users react to each prototype and how the different solutions can be compared, no matter how different in technology they are.
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