Date of Award

6-2017

Degree Name

MS in Industrial Engineering

Department

Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Advisor

Reza Pouraghabagher

Abstract

Virtual reality is rapidly expanding its capabilities and accessibility to consumers. The application of virtual reality in training for precision tasks has been limited to specialized equipment such as a haptic glove or a haptic stylus, but not studied for handheld controllers in consumer-grade systems such as the HTC Vive. A straight-line precision steadiness task was adopted in virtual reality to emulate basic linear movements in industrial operations and disability rehabilitation. This study collected the total time and the error time for the straight-line task in both virtual reality and a physical control experiment for 48 participants. The task was performed at four different gap widths, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, and 7mm, to see the effects of virtual reality at different levels of precision. Average error ratios were then calculated and analyzed for strong associations to various factors. The results indicated that a combination of Environment x Gap Width factors significantly affected average error ratios, with a p-value of 0.000.

This human factors study also collected participants’ ratings of user experience dimensions, such as difficulty, comfort, strain, reliability, and effectiveness, for both physical and virtual environments in a questionnaire. The results indicate that the ratings for difficulty, reliability, and effectiveness were significantly different, with virtual reality rating consistently rating worse than the physical environment. An analysis of questionnaire responses indicates a significant association of overall environment preference (physical or virtual) with performance data, with a p-value of 0.027.

In general, virtual reality yielded higher error among participants. As the difficulty of the task increased, the performance in virtual reality degraded significantly. Virtual reality has great potential for a variety of precision applications, but the technology in consumer-grade hardware must improve significantly to enable these applications. Virtual reality is difficult to implement without previous experience or specialized knowledge in programming, which makes the technology currently inaccessible for many people. Future work is needed to investigate a larger variety of precision tasks and movements to expand the body of knowledge of virtual reality applications for training purposes.

Included in

Ergonomics Commons

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