Chapter 2. Dr. Kumar’s thesis on virtual reality modeling

Link to abstract, Chapter One, etc. http://www.joelsolkoff.com/dr-sonali-kumars-thesis-on-virtual-reality-modeling/

Chapter 2

ROLE OF VIRTUAL PROTOTYPING IN DESIGN REVIEW

This chapter evaluates the current state of literature and identifies gaps to inform areas for further research. The role of virtual prototyping in design reviews of healthcare facilities is determined by exploring three broad topics of a) design reviews as a process that take place within b) the context of healthcare facility design and finally through the use of c) virtual prototypes as a tool as shown in Figure 2.1. Literature sources reviewed are primarily from the AEC domain that comprises virtual prototyping theories and design theories including healthcare design.

Fig1C2

The first two sections of this chapter introduce design review concepts in the healthcare field. The third section focuses on virtual facility prototyping as an effective tool for experience- based design review with end-users. This section describes how virtual prototyping allows for better visualization of facilities through case studies of successful implementation both within and outside the healthcare context. Finally, it identifies the potential for engaging design reviewers by incorporating greater interactive experiences in the virtual facilities. 

Based on the above findings, the final section explores the possibility of portraying virtual prototyping through game environments to enable interactive review of virtual healthcare facilities.

2.1 DESIGN REVIEW

Design is the process by which the needs, wishes, and desires of the owner are defined, quantified, qualified, and communicated to the builder. As such, it is the particular phase of the project where many key decisions are made (Sanvido and Norton 1994).

The traditional approach to the planning, design, construction and operation of a facility in the AEC industry favors a sequential, “over the wall” approach to project development where many participants often work independently while taking decisions that may affect others.

Decision-making during design reviews are usually dominated by the perceptions of the “expert” decision makers (E.g., planners, architects, and design engineers) and focus mainly on the technical elements of a project (Isaacs et al. 2011). According to Anumba et al. (1997), this often leads to inadequate capture, analysis and prioritization of client requirements, lack of communication of design intent and rationale as well as poor integration, co-ordination and collaboration between the functional disciplines involved in the project.

2.1.1  Design Review Process

Design Review is defined as a process in which design is reviewed for constructability, coordination of systems and visualization of spaces and building details (Computer Integrated Construction Research Group 2010). 

The Design Review Process usually occurs during the design phase of the facility life cycle. The design process is traditionally broken into the following phases of programming, schematic design, design development and construction documents (Figure 2-2).

Figure 2-2. Design Review during the Facility Life Cycle

Fig2_2

Design review is usually done between participants that include the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) team and the clients or end-users of the facility. The purpose of design review is to evaluate the proposed design of the facility against the programmatic requirements and needs of the client.

Kagioglou et al. (2000) employ a “stage gate” approach for design review that applies a consistent planning and review procedure throughout the process covering the whole ‘life’ of a facility project from recognition of a need to the operation of the finished facility and, finally, to its demolition. They propose the Generic Design and Construction Process Protocol (GDCPP) which divides the project into four major phases: 1) Pre-Project Phases comprising of demonstrating the need, conception of need, outline feasibility, substantive feasibility study and outline financial authority; 2) Pre-Construction Phases including outline conceptual design, full conceptual design, and coordinated design procurement and full financial authority; 3) Construction Phases that include production information and construction; and finally 4) Post- Construction Phase comprising of operations and maintenance. Each of the above phases require a review from project stakeholders (Kagioglou et al. 2000). 

2.1.2  Design Communication and Visualization

Communication of design information is of vital importance in the facility design process as each building project involves the collaboration of several disciplines and project stakeholders. Traditional design information communication took the form of two-dimensional (2D) drawings, with designers using plans, elevations and perspectives to represent their design intent.

Along with the emerging new media and the rapid changes of information technology, digital design has become a leading trend, and design thinking in the digital world has changed accordingly. Representation applied in the digital design world has been modified to meet the different design situations. The newly emerged virtual environments, with the advantages of visualizing the virtual world through perception, have created different dimensions of representation for design. Thus, the representation and perception are two important human cognitive faculties involved with design in virtual environments (Chan 2011).

Based on the studies, Figure 2-3 shows a conceptual model of design communication between AEC professionals/ project team and client/end-user. While the AEC professionals use media to represent design intent, end-users are expected to perceive the design from the media to engage with design, and provide design review feedback.

Fig2-3

Figure 2-3. Design Communication between participants

In design, designers use suitable means to mentally create design concepts, apply communication channels (media) to express their design concepts and turn the concepts into external visible artifacts (products); so that designers and other viewers (or clients) can visualize the design in progress. These various means used for creation are internal representations, whereas the artifacts are external representations of the design.

The entire design process phenomenon consists of representation of design concepts and utilization of appropriate media to make the concepts visible until the final solution is reached. These complicated mental processes usually generate some external representation of a drawing, video, physical model, digital model, virtual model; or the combination of all (Kalay 2004).

2.1.2.2 Design Perception

Consequences of design alternatives are often difficult to envision during early phases of design and communication techniques can ensure that all team members reviewing the design clearly understand the nature and content of those alternatives (Kirk and Spreckelmeyer 1988)

3D visualizations can fulfill various functions in participatory planning workshops. These can be divided into three main groups: functions to support (1) individual information processing,

(2) participant discussions, and (3) achieving the objectives of information transfer in different phases of the planning process (Chan 2011).

2.1.3  Review of Design Visualization Media

Architectural design progresses through different stages where representations take different forms depending on the level of information that needs to be communicated. Thus, the nature of design representation varies from more abstract forms in the conceptual stage to become more detailed and more realistic as design evolves.

There are five categories of design communication media are used. These include the pencil-and-paper– usually abstract drawings, quick sketches, or even construction (or working) drawings, physical models that depict scaled down 3D representation  for study;  digital models- developed using computer software; film and video- create animation for demonstrating design concepts; and lastly, Virtual Reality (VR) -advanced media for visualization and simulation of design (Chan 2011).

Figure 2-4 shows two categories of physical (top) and digital (bottom) design visualization media used in AEC domain. From left to right, these visualization media are arranged from the level of lowest (abstraction) to highest (realism) fidelity.

Physical 

Fig2-4

Digital

Figure 2-4. Spectrum of AEC representation tools

 2.1.3.1  Plans and Elevations or 2D drawings

 Traditionally, two-dimensional floor plans of buildings and elevations or perspective projections have been the basic communication media between architects and their clients.

Particularly with respect to the interior of buildings, architects relied on the client’s imagination to visualize a proposed building from its architectural plan views, assuming that clients are familiar with architectural symbols, and have training and experience to construct three dimensional images from two dimensional plan views (Funkhouser et al. 1996).

2.1.3.2  Scaled Models and Physical Mock Ups

Clients and architects often discuss design proposals by studying the scaled models through the overhead perspective that forces the viewers to imagine themselves looking and moving within the model which can lead to misperceptions.

Full-scale models known as mock-ups, allow viewers to experience an artifact as close to reality as one can come without constructing the facility itself. Physical mock-ups at full-scale are essential for verification of constructability and functional performance especially for complex façade assembly (Pietroforte et al. 2012) or more costly unique construction such as operating rooms.

2.1.3.3  Building Information Modeling

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process that provides a means for owners, designers, contractors, and operators to generate, organize and use detailed information throughout a project lifecycle. Over the past several years, BIM implementation has increased substantially within the AEC Industry. The National BIM Standards (NBIMS) Committee defines BIM as: “… a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle from earliest conception to demolition. A basic premise of BIM is collaboration by different stakeholders at different phases of the life cycle of a facility to insert, extract, update or modify information in the BIM to support and reflect the roles of that stakeholder. The BIM is a shared digital representation founded on open standards for interoperability” (buildingSMART alliance 2007).

The Computer Integrated Construction (CIC) Research Group at Penn State has developed a BIM Project Execution Plan that describes an execution strategy to implement BIM on a project which comprises of the following four steps: 1) Identify BIM Goals and Uses; 2) Design the BIM Project Execution Process; 3) Develop Information Exchanges; and 4) Define Supporting Infrastructure for BIM Implementation (Computer Integrated Construction Research Group 2010).

The BIM Project Execution Plan defines BIM Use as a process in which a project team member utilizes building information for the purpose of improving the planning, design, construction, or operation of a facility. The Plan identifies Design Reviews as a BIM Use (Figure 2-5) and defines design reviews as: “… a process in which stakeholders view a 3D model and provide their feedback to validate multiple design aspects. These aspects include evaluating meeting the program, previewing space aesthetics and layout in a virtual environment, and setting criteria such as layout, sightlines, lighting, security, ergonomics, acoustics, textures and colors, etc.”

Of the 25 BIM uses defined by the BIM Project Execution Planning Guide, design reviews ranked second in both the frequency of use and perceived benefit of use by AEC organizations (Kreider et al. 2010). 

 fig2-5

Figure 2-5. Design Reviews as a BIM Use (Source: CIC Research Group 2010)

The Building Information Modeling (BIM) use for “design review” can employ either some computer software or advanced virtual environment facilities, such as CAVE (Computer Assisted Virtual Environment) and immersive screens. Further, the virtual mock-ups (prototypes) can be performed at various levels of detail depending on project needs.

2.1.4  End-Users in the Design Process

Successful construction projects are designed, built and equipped to meet users’ needs. Whether it concerns the function and expression of an entire building or the design of a single space, users hold a unique knowledge, which should be integrated properly in the design to ensure a successful building project.

Designers engage in conversations with clients and users at various stages of the design process, in part to make sense of the information gathered and then to make decisions and generate ideas for the design of the space. Aesthetic and functional design decisions are made on the spot by designers engaged with stakeholders as they define how the space should be occupied and for what purposes (Poldma 2010). There is a service relationship that develops between the designers and users as they participate together in both design and production processes (Tzortzopoulos et al. 2006).

End-users are defined as those who use/occupy the building; they are not experts in managing it, but have knowledge and opinions, nonetheless, about its performance in relation to their own objectives. The end-users of a building are typically building inhabitants, external service providers, operation and maintenance personnel, and building administration. They may have conflicting wishes and expectations on building performance in many cases.

Building end-users are a source of experience and expertise that can be brought into the briefing stage for the evaluation of design proposals. End-users are often a source of new ideas promoting innovation (Carvajal 2005).

2.1.4.1  Design Decisions

In creative collaboration such as design, teams are formed to find a novel solution to the problem.  They are required to have shared understanding and joint decision-making skills (Kalay 2004). According to Akin (1986), the design process needs to be decomposed explicitly into smaller phases to make possible the contributions of a large number of participants, such as engineers, planners, and clients or user groups. Since the integration of each participant in this complex process is essential, these interest groups can participate in design meaningfully if they are informed about the relevant decisions and alternatives during the course of the design process.

Furthermore, experts from diverse fields may be responsible for parts of the design, and they need to be able to communicate their ideas to other people in the design team (Schön 1991). The design process can, in itself, become a common artifact, around which communication takes place (Davies 2004).

Drawings are still predominantly used in design and engineering, though computers have been adopted in the last fifteen years to support design and drafting mostly in 2D. BIM is making an enormous shift in approach to design since it is replacing 2D drawings with 3D models. 3D visualization is one of the most important aspects of the design optimization because it improves communication with all stakeholders and speeds up design decisions (Zikic 2009).

2.1.4.2  Participatory Design Approach

Participatory design is an advantageous approach when the tacit knowledge invested in the people who work day-to-day in a particular situation must be captured (Davies 2004). Since, users evaluate the built environment differently from designers (Zimmerman and Martin 2001), participatory design approaches attempt to bridge a gap in understanding between users and designers. This can be extremely useful in understanding the tasks performed by healthcare practitioners by incorporating their knowledge of how things work in their setting into the virtual environment. Furthermore, when large changes are to take place in a work situation, involving the people who are to work in the new environment in the design process increases the acceptance of those changes.

2.1.4.3  User-Centered Design

User-centered design (UCD) is an approach to design that grounds the process in information about the people who will use the product. UCD processes focus on users through the planning, design and development of a product. This concept is derived from the domain of information sciences and technology and Human Computer Interaction (HCI) theories, specifically Human Centered Design Processes that provides guidance for the design and development of computer systems.

User-Centered Design (UCD) is defined as: “An Approach to user interface design and development that views the knowledge about the intended users of a system as a central concern, including, for example, knowledge about users’ abilities and needs, their tasks, and the environments in which they work. The users would also be actively involved in the design process.” (Stone et al. 2005)

Users are typically experts in some domain of activity relevant to the product being (facility) being designed (Erickson 1995).

2.2 EXPERIENCE-BASED DESIGN APPROACH TO HEALTHCARE FACILITIES

Many studies suggest strong links between the physical environment to patient and staff outcomes in the following areas: Reducing staff stress and fatigue and increasing effectiveness in delivering care; improving patient safety; reducing patient stress and improving outcomes; and finally improving overall healthcare quality (Ulrich et al. 2004). Therefore, there is a need for innovative approaches to design such as Experience-based Design (EBD) that focuses on end- user and staff experiences in a facility to identify creative design solutions.

2.2.1 Healthcare Design- Complexity, challenges and present state

Hospitals are the most complex of building types. Each hospital is comprised of a wide range of services and functional units. These include diagnostic and treatment functions, such as clinical laboratories, imaging, emergency rooms, and surgery; hospitality functions, such as food service and housekeeping; and the fundamental inpatient care or bed-related function (Carr 2009). In addition to the wide range of services that must be accommodated, hospitals must serve and support many different users and stakeholders. Ideally, the design process incorporates direct input from the owner and from key hospital staff early on in the process. The designer also has to be an advocate for the patients, visitors, support staff, volunteers, and suppliers who do not generally have direct input into the design. Good hospital design integrates functional requirements with the human needs of its varied users with the planning process.

The design of healthcare facilities is governed by many regulations and technical requirements. Healthcare facilities encompass a wide range of types, from small and relatively simple medical clinics to large, complex, and costly, teaching and research hospitals (Carr 2009).

Healthcare facilities have to be specially designed to fulfill the needs of medical care and maximizing the efficiency of the whole medical system; it is also crucial to plan all spaces well so it will minimize the travelling of patient within the facilities; to maximize the efficiency of the integration of each related facilities. It is always a challenge for architects to design healthcare facilities; the knowledge of medical care and the medical systems is essential to begin.

It is estimated that $100 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars has been spent on new healthcare construction in the past 5 years and $250 billion will be spent in the next 10 years (Clancy 2008). The entire healthcare system is under great pressure to reduce costs, and at the same time, be more responsive to “customers”. This can be challenging as the design of the healthcare facility has to address the human needs of each of the defined user groups which includes patients, caregivers, employees, visitors as well as the community.

2.2.1.1 Need for tools in healthcare

Healthcare facilities not only require specialized and complex functions to be performed in them, but they must also address the needs of the end-users such as the patients, staff and healthcare practitioners using the facility. This makes them exceedingly difficult to design, build and operate due to the incorporation of the interdisciplinary knowledge and input of various stakeholders such as the design professionals, engineers, facility managers as well as the end- users (patients, staff and medical professionals) of the building. Hence, there is a need to create innovative tools and procedures that facilitate high levels of participatory design and allow better visualization of these complex facilities to aid in the decision-making process during the planning and design of these specialized facilities.

 2.2.3  Evidence-based Design Approach in Healthcare

The Center for Health design (CHD) was formed as an organization in 1993 with the express intention to serve as a consortium for knowledge in many different fields that contribute to the creation of healing environments for both patients and staff. (Center for Health Design 2010). Evidence-based design has evolved from other disciplines that have used evidence-based model to guide decisions and practices in their respective fields.

“Evidence-based design is the process of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes. Evidence-based design is measuring the effect of specific design features on patient outcomes, productivity, and also employee and  patient morale and stress levels. Hamilton and Watkins (2009) define Evidence-based design as:

“A process for the conscientious, explicit, ad judicious use of current best evidence from research and practice in making critical decisions, together with an informed client, about the design of each individual and unique project”

Evidence-based design has evolved from other disciplines that have used evidence-based model to guide decisions and practices in their respective fields. Evidence-based design is used to persuade decision-makers to invest the time and money to build better hospital buildings that are based on current research so they can realize specific advantages (Stankos 2007).

2.2.4  Defining Experience-based Design

Experience-based design is defined as a user-focused design process with the goal of making user experience accessible to the designers, to allow them to conceive of designing experiences rather than designing services (Bate and Robert 2006). Figure 2-6 shows co- productive relationship between designers and users to create optimum value in the healthcare facility design.

Fig2-6

Figure 2-6. Co-productive relationship between designers and users in EBD. (Source: NHS 2008).

Using experience to design better healthcare is unique in the way that it focuses on capturing and understanding patients’, careers’ and staff experience at crucial points in the care pathway. NHS website: what’s special about using experience to design better healthcare is its focus on capturing and understanding patients’, care givers’ and staffs’ experience of services and not just their views of the process like the speed and efficiency at which they travel through the system.

The term has emerged from the UK’s National Health Services’ (NHS) Institute for Innovation and Improvement. According to Bate and Robert (2007), Experience in Experience- based design (EBD) is designated, as “how well people understand it, how they feel about it while they are using it, how well it serves its purpose, and how well it fits into the context in which they are using it.” By identifying the key moments and places, where people come into contact with  the service and where their subjective experience is shaped, and therefore where the desired emotional and sensory connection needs to be established—and working with the front-line people who bring alive those various touch points in the journey—it is possible to begin  designing experiences rather than processes. The task for experience-based design is to gain access to that knowledge and use it in the service of a better design and a better experience for the user.

2.3 VIRTUAL PROTOTYPING FOR DESIGN REVIEW

Design evolves, ideally, through an iterative process of prototyping, involving actual users, designers, engineers, and other experts until a satisfactory result has been achieved (Norman 1988) and can be used for “facilitating meaningful innovation” from a combination of “understanding what people do and think” and “innovative technology” (Rheinfrank et al. 1994).

“Prototypes” are representations of design ideas created before final artifacts exist. In some industries or companies, the term prototype is reserved for highly resolved and close-to- launch versions that in essence “stand for” a final product or offering (Coughlan et al. 2007).

Prototyping, which is the process of developing prototypes, is an integral part of iterative user-centered design because it enables designers to try out their ideas with users and to gather feedback. Prototyping as a process involves moving from the world of abstract ideas, analysis, theories, plans, and specifications to the world of concrete, tangible, and experiential things  (Rudd et al. 1996). In the human-computer interaction context, the main purpose of prototyping is to involve the users in testing design ideas and get their feedback in the early stage of development, thus to reduce the time and cost. It provides an efficient and effective way to refine and optimize interfaces through discussion, exploration, testing and iterative revision. Early evaluation can be based on faster and cheaper prototypes before the start of a full-scale implementation. The prototypes can be changed many times until a better understanding of the user interface design has been achieved with the joint efforts of both the designers and the users (Rosson 2002; Rudd et al. 1996).

Prototyping can be divided into low-fidelity prototyping, medium-fidelity prototyping and high-fidelity prototyping. The determining factor in prototype fidelity is the degree to which the prototype accurately represents the appearance and interaction of the product. Low-fidelity prototypes are quickly constructed to depict concepts, design alternatives, and screen layouts, rather than to model the user interaction with a system. Low-fidelity prototypes provide limited or no functionality. In contrast, high-fidelity prototypes are fully interactive, simulating much of the functionality in the final product. Users can operate on the prototype, or even perform some real tasks with it (Rosson 2002).

In our (AEC domain) use of the term, and more typically within the design profession, prototypes can be usefully thought of as “design representation/ communication tools” and consequently may exist at any level of resolution—from very rough to highly refined—and may be used at any stage in the design process to explore, evolve, and/or communicate ideas (Coughlan et al. 2007).

2.3.1  Definition of Virtual Prototypes

A virtual prototype is defined as “A digital model (mock-up) of a structure or product used for testing and evaluating form, design fit, performance and manufacturability as well as used for study and training” (Wang 2002). It can also be defined as “A computer-based simulation of a system or sub-system with a degree of functional realism comparable to a physical prototype”

Virtual prototyping is defined as “The process of using a virtual prototype in lieu of a physical prototype, for test and evaluation of specific characteristics of a candidate design” (Schaaf and Thompson 1997). Markham (1998) identified three factors contributing to effective visualization using virtual prototyping: 1) immersion, 2) interaction, and 3) engagement. These factors provide many advantages of using virtual prototyping for design reviews in the AEC field.

2.3.2  Virtual Prototyping in AEC Domain

With the recent advances in technology, many cases of using virtual prototypes during the facility life cycle have emerged in the Architectural Engineering and Construction industry. The use of Virtual prototyping in the building industry began in the nineties and build up in the last ten years (Whyte 2003). Some of the earlier applications of virtual prototyping used expensive immersive virtual prototyping environments such as CAVEs (Cruz-Neira 1998) or described the use of custom-based virtual reality suites that enabled real-time visualization of building models (Funkhouser et al. 1996).

Table 2-1 shows a list of studies that have applied virtual prototyping in the AEC context either to assess their effectiveness for design review, or to develop tools and technology required for virtual prototyping. For each study, Table 2-1 lists the year, authors, facility type, and the type of virtual reality (VR) system/ software and VR technology/ hardware used. Although the following list of studies is not comprehensive, the table shows shifts in trends of using more off- the-shelf real-time rendering/ gaming engines, digital 3D file formats like VRML and virtual reality plug-ins from previous use of highly customized VR suites. The studies that are in bold, relate to use of virtual prototyping in healthcare facilities.

Table 2-1. List of studies that used Virtual Prototyping for Design Review.

Year Author Facility Type VR system/ software VR Technology/                                                                                                                                                                 Hardware      
2000 Fröst and Warren Collaborative Design of Laboratory Layouts ArchiCAD v6 – dVISE from Division CAVE
2002 Patel et al. Home designs InfiniteReality 2E graphics Reality Room suite
2002 Shiratuddin and Thabet Office Building Unreal tournament Desktop
2004 Davies Foundry Superscape Projector and PC
2004 Palmon et al. Home/ office for disabled EON Reality Desktop
2005 Carvajal Home design 3D vs. 2D Video – Studio Max Architectural Desktop Laptop and projector
2006 Maldovan et al. Courtrooms VRML 3 screen immersivedisplay
2006 Majumdar et al. Courtroom Design Panda3D Curved Front Projection
2007 Lu and Riley Patient Exam Room Unreal tournament Desktop
2007 Dunston et al. Hospital Patient Rooms OSGExp plug-in CAVE – Fakespace FLEX VR theatre system
2007 Shiratuddin Student Designs BuildITC4 – C4Engine Desktop
2008 Mobach Community Pharmacies OSG-RC developed in- house 3 projectors and Cylindrical screens
2009 Tang et al. Way finding Quest3D Desktop
2009 Wahlström et al. Patient Rooms VR4MAX CAVE
2010 Bullinger et al. Concept design IAO VRfx Powerwall
2010 Leicht et al. Pharmacy VR4MAX 3 screen immersive display
2010 Dunston et al. Healthcare facilities OSGExp plug-in CAVE
2011 Christiansson et al. Office Building and other case studies VIC-MET CAVE, HMD Wii remote etc
2011 Zhang andEdelstein Healthcare environments CAVE-CADTM StarCAVE UCSD Calit2
2011 Kumar et al. Healthcare facilities Unity Scalable – Immersiveand Desktop
2011 Yan et al. House for egress andoperations XNA Game Engine Desktop
2011 Isaacs et al. Urban Planning XNA- HIVE Immersive and Desktop
2011 D’Souza et al. Children’s Zoo Second Life Desktop
2011 Shiratuddin and Thabet 3BR House Model Torque game Engine Desktop

 For each study, Table 2-1 lists the year, authors, facility type, and the type of virtual reality (VR) system/ software and VR technology/ hardware used. Although the following list of studies is not comprehensive, the table shows shifts in trends of using more off-the-shelf real-time rendering/ gaming engines, digital 3D file formats like VRML and virtual reality plug-ins from previous use of highly customized VR suites. The studies that are in bold, relate to use of virtual prototyping in healthcare facilities.

Recently, apart from applying virtual prototyping for design and constructability review, studies have also explored issues related to construction safety processes (Lin et al. 2011). These studies use virtual prototyping to visualize the construction process for hazard identification in the early phases of design (Chun et al. 2012). The next section focuses on the use of virtual prototyping specifically in healthcare facilities.

2.3.3  Virtual Prototyping for Healthcare Facilities

Virtual Prototypes can be extremely useful in understanding the tasks performed by healthcare practitioners by incorporating their knowledge of how things work in their setting into the virtual environment. For large complex projects such as hospitals and healthcare facilities, virtual prototypes can be used to tailor environments to user needs (Whyte 2002). Furthermore, when large changes are to take place in a work situation, involving the people who would work in the new environment in the design process increases the acceptance of those changes (Davies 2004).

Healthcare facilities can benefit significantly through the application of virtual prototyping in the design process as it enables the evaluation of a range of essential criteria. These could include but not be limited to evaluating mobility of equipment and furnishings; dimensions and placement of doors, windows and cabinetry; accommodation of flow into, out of, and within the room; accessibility and safety of bathroom facilities; assessment of noise levels filtering from outside the patient room; identification of architectural features for infection control; and intensity of various light sources. Figure 2-8 shows a patient room display in a virtual reality CAVE (Dunston et al. 2007).

fig2-7

Figure 2-7.  Patient room display in a virtual reality CAVE system. (Source: Dunston et al. 2007).

A study by Whalström et al. (2009) employed an immersive CAVE system to examine how end-users perceive use of virtual environments to analyze patient rooms (Figure 2-9). The study showed that virtual prototyping was convenient for evaluating most issues identified by the study participants in the actual hospital wards. Participants of the study included both nurses and patients who assessed a range of issues including aesthetics, correct location of equipment, supplies and materials, window/ door positions and the living/workspace size. Participants also identified that it was not possible to evaluate certain healthcare facilities features in virtual environments such as temperature, air circulation and noise. Some other limitations highlighted were the inability to touch modeled objects as well as accurately evaluating lighting levels. 

fig2-8

Figure 2-8. Patient interview within an immersive virtual environment. (Source: Whalström et al 2009).

2.3.4  Advantages of Virtual Prototyping

Some of the advantages of using virtual prototyping for design reviews are that they involve end-users and experts (Norman 1988), and externalizes thoughts to spark innovations (Davies 2004; Schrage 2000) by helping end-users understand the design space and tasks they would perform (Carvajal 2005; Mobach 2008). Furthermore, virtual prototypes can be developed relatively rapidly and allow interactivity and functionality compared to other design visualization media. The following are some advantages of virtual prototyping:

2.3.4.1  Collaboration, Creativity, Innovation

According to Schrage (2000), prototypes can foster collaborative creativity by externalizing thought and sparking conversations to make knowledge more explicit. Virtual prototypes can be effective tools to extract tacit knowledge of the end-user during the design process, thereby enhancing creativity. User involvement can take a variety of forms, from appraisal of an expertly modeled and animated 3-D virtual model with ensuing discussion to active design using virtual prototypes as a design tool.

 2.3.4.2  User Engagement, Interactivity and Functionality

The advantages of having user involvement and engagement with the virtual prototypes is that it leads non-AEC professionals to understand the design intent and imagine consequences of the design on their workplace, hence making them committed to the decision making process (Mobach 2008). Moreover, designs can be worked on over a long period of time and discussed among a larger group than is possible in traditional design situations (Davies 2004).

Virtual prototypes can provide a degree of functionality as they can allow further degrees of interactivity including multiple viewpoints, the ability to zoom in and out, and the ability to selectively view components. It has also been noted that virtual prototyping and 3D modeling is a means of rapidly developing designs (Gopinath 2004; Schaaf and Thompson 1997). This ability to rapidly develop and modify designs makes the use of virtual prototyping more alluring.

2.3.4.4 Quality, Efficiency and Cost savings

Virtual prototyping effectively communicates the design intent to the owner, construction team and end-users to get instant feedbacks on whether design meets program requirements, owner’s needs and building or space aesthetics aspirations (Leicht et al. 2010). These opportunities for early feedback increase coordination and communication between different parties which is more likely to generate better decisions for design, thereby reducing cost of changes and increasing scope of influence in design as shown in Paulson’s (1976) cost influence curve in Figure 2-10.

 fig2-9

 

Figure 2-9. Cost Influence Curve. (Source: Paulson 1976).

Studies have also shown that use of virtual prototypes for design review can eliminate costly and timely traditional construction mock-ups (Majumdar et al. 2007, Messner et al. 2007, Leicht et al. 2010). Different design options and alternatives may be easily modeled and changed in real-time during design review base on end-users and/or owner feedbacks (Gopinath 2004) that helps create shorter and more efficient design review cycles.

Additionally virtual prototypes can evaluate if the design meets building program criteria and owner’s needs that enhance the health, safety and welfare performance of their projects. For instance, virtual prototypes of BIMs can be used to analyze and compare fire-rated egress enclosures, sprinkler system designs, and alternate stair layouts (Yan et al. 2011).

2.4 EXPERIENCE-BASED VIRTUAL PROTOTYPES: NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES

Based on the literature reviewed, it can be inferred that virtual prototyping enhances the design review process by engaging end-users to interact with the facility during design reviews. In pilot studies conducted where virtual facility prototypes were used for design review of a medical pharmacy (Leicht et al. 2010), it was observed that project teams, especially end-users would frequently envision tasks that they would perform within the space they reviewed. This phenomenon triggered the idea of incorporating greater level of interactivity within virtual prototypes such that it allows end-users to move objects and navigate through spaces to simulate typical activities they perform while virtually reviewing the designed space. Project team members could also perform these tasks collaboratively with end-users to possibly identify creative design solutions.

 2.4.1  Addressing the Research Gap

The current research literature lacks a defined framework and methodology to make the virtual prototyping process more efficient for developers, while also engaging healthcare end users in the design review process.

The ability to virtually perform tasks and interactively review designs requires the development of an experience-based design system combined with interactive virtual prototyping that facilitates collaboration between design disciplines and enables experience- based design with end-user feedback. The concept of Experience-based Virtual Prototyping System (EVPS) can be a combination of experience-based design involving end-users in the design review and interactive virtual prototyping.

To realize these complex interactive virtual prototypes with end-user activities, it is important to develop and evaluate a virtual prototyping procedure for their efficient and rapid development. Literature indicates that real-time rendering engines and gaming environments could potentially be used to develop these interactive virtual prototypes that engage end-users through interactive simulations scenarios of activities. However, at present there is only an insignificant relationship between game engines and standard architectural or design visualization tools as they seldom offer real-time rendering and simulations that game engines do.

Therefore, to employ gaming environments in interactive virtual prototype development, it is important to study 1) games engine development, and 2) theories related to scenario-based design.

2.4.2  Game Engines to develop Virtual Prototypes

Game engines are the core software component that provide the underlying technology, simplify development, and incorporate all the elements vital in a game like physics, collision detection, graphical user interface (GUI), artificial intelligence, network functionality, sound and event engine (Eberly 2007; Fritsch and Kada 2004). Most game engines have a built-in physics engine that supports basic physics, collision detection, rigid body and vehicle physics.

Gaming consists of “interaction among players placed in a prescribed setting and constrained by a set of rules and procedures” (Hsu 1989). Contemporary developments in gaming, particularly interactive stories, digital authoring tools, and collaborative worlds, suggest powerful new opportunities for educational media.

While gaming environments and simulations are becoming more and more widespread in education, very little is known about how they work (Squire 2006). Similarly, in the design context, unlike reviewing virtual prototypes of facilities in virtual environments, gaming environments can offer extensive possibilities to engage end-users through interactive simulations of task scenarios within the virtual prototype. However, in order to employ gaming environments in the design review of virtual prototypes, it is important to understand how games and simulations can be developed. Furthermore, game engines allow multiple simultaneous users to explore the designed environment (Shiratuddin et al. 2004; Wang 2002) opening possibilities for collaborative design reviews.

 2.4.3  Simulating Experiences as Scenarios in Gaming Environments

To truly experience the tasks that are performed in healthcare facilities, the tasks can be simulated as scenarios within virtual prototypes. In the gaming world, the core of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) revolves around completing quests or a series of clearly outlined tasks that are given to the player to complete for in-game rewards (Karlsen 2008; G. Smith et al. 2011). In the context of experience-based design simulations, specific healthcare tasks can be categorized as scenarios that are movement, task, or inquiry based. The scenarios can vary depending on the user, the type of task being performed and the issues it addresses. For instance a movement-based scenario could involve a nurse moving the patient from the Emergency Department (ED) to the patient room. Large–scale healthcare facilities could benefit through simulation of such scenarios as it could help address issues of way finding in large spaces and also check if there are adequate architectural clearances to move equipment, wheelchairs and patients beds through all the corridors of the facility. Similarly scenarios for design professionals of the healthcare facilities could pertain to spatially reorganizing the architectural model in the virtual environment and evaluating different design options.

2.4.4  Scenario-based Design Theories

Scenarios are a narrative description of what people do and experience and can be couched at many different levels of description and many grains of detail (Carroll 1995). They are defined as “concrete description of activity that the user engages in when performing a specific task, a description sufficiently detailed so that design implications can be inferred and reasoned about” (Carroll 2003).

Scenarios have been gaining immense popularity in designing systems for both human- computer interaction (HCI) and software engineering (Kuutti 1995). However, these scenarios can also be instrumental in designing specialized facilities such as healthcare by extracting specific end-user knowledge. Scenarios can provide insights into how end-users of healthcare facilities behave in their environments and the type of specialized tasks they perform in them.

Scenarios simulated in a virtual prototype would help designers and users of healthcare facilities envision the outcomes of design. Hence, scenarios can further open possibilities for new and innovative alternatives for both the way facilities are designed and the way tasks are performed in them. The application of scenario-based design in architectural design review feedback can be viewed as part of the overarching design rationale theory within the HCI domain. Theory of design rationale couples theoretical concepts and methods with the designed artifacts that instantiate them (Carroll 2003). The EVPS concept development is an example of the theory- based design that demonstrates role that models and theories can play in invention, development and evaluation of new technology.

2.5 SUMMARY

This chapter provided an overview of the literature related to design reviews, emerging healthcare design theories like experience-based design, virtual prototyping and its application in the AEC domain, and finally potential use of game engines to develop interactive virtual prototypes. Based on the literature reviewed, the EVPS concept was introduced, which combined theories of scenario-based design, virtual prototyping and healthcare design reviews. The literature review indicates that developing the EVPS would enhance the design review with end- users of healthcare facilities. The next chapter on research methodology lays down the steps and research methodology adopted to design, develop, implement and assess the EVPS.

nent that provide the underlying technology, simplify development, and incorporate all the elements vital in a game like physics, collision detection, graphical user interface (GUI), artificial intelligence, network functionality, sound and event engine (Eberly 2007; Fritsch and Kada 2004). Most game engines have a built-in physics engine that supports basic physics, collision detection, rigid body and vehicle physics.

Gaming consists of “interaction among players placed in a prescribed setting and constrained by a set of rules and procedures” (Hsu 1989). Contemporary developments in gaming, particularly interactive stories, digital authoring tools, and collaborative worlds, suggest powerful new opportunities for educational media.

While gaming environments and simulations are becoming more and more widespread in education, very little is known about how they work (Squire 2006). Similarly, in the design context, unlike reviewing virtual prototypes of facilities in virtual environments, gaming environments can offer extensive possibilities to engage end-users through interactive simulations of task scenarios within the virtual prototype. However, in order to employ gaming environments in the design review of virtual prototypes, it is important to understand how games and simulations can be developed. Furthermore, game engines allow multiple simultaneous users to explore the designed environment (Shiratuddin et al. 2004; Wang 2002) opening possibilities for collaborative design reviews.

2.4.3  Simulating Experiences as Scenarios in Gaming Environments

To truly experience the tasks that are performed in healthcare facilities, the tasks can be simulated as scenarios within virtual prototypes. In the gaming world, the core of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) revolves around completing quests or a series of clearly outlined tasks that are given to the player to complete for in-game rewards (Karlsen 2008; G. Smith et al. 2011). In the context of experience-based design simulations, specific healthcare tasks can be categorized as scenarios that are movement, task, or inquiry based. The scenarios can vary depending on the user, the type of task being performed and the issues it addresses. For instance a movement-based scenario could involve a nurse moving the patient from the Emergency Department (ED) to the patient room. Large–scale healthcare facilities could benefit through simulation of such scenarios as it could help address issues of way finding in large spaces and also check if there are adequate architectural clearances to move equipment, wheelchairs and patients beds through all the corridors of the facility. Similarly scenarios for design professionals of the healthcare facilities could pertain to spatially reorganizing the architectural model in the virtual environment and evaluating different design options.

2.4.4  Scenario-based Design Theories

Scenarios are a narrative description of what people do and experience and can be couched at many different levels of description and many grains of detail (Carroll 1995). They are defined as “concrete description of activity that the user engages in when performing a specific task, a description sufficiently detailed so that design implications can be inferred and reasoned about” (Carroll 2003).

Scenarios have been gaining immense popularity in designing systems for both human- computer interaction (HCI) and software engineering (Kuutti 1995). However, these scenarios can also be instrumental in designing specialized facilities such as healthcare by extracting specific end-user knowledge. Scenarios can provide insights into how end-users of healthcare facilities behave in their environments and the type of specialized tasks they perform in them.

Scenarios simulated in a virtual prototype would help designers and users of healthcare facilities envision the outcomes of design. Hence, scenarios can further open possibilities for new and innovative alternatives for both the way facilities are designed and the way tasks are performed in them. The application of scenario-based design in architectural design review feedback can be viewed as part of the overarching design rationale theory within the HCI domain. Theory of design rationale couples theoretical concepts and methods with the designed artifacts that instantiate them (Carroll 2003). The EVPS concept development is an example of the theory- based design that demonstrates role that models and theories can play in invention, development and evaluation of new technology.

2.5 SUMMARY

This chapter provided an overview of the literature related to design reviews, emerging healthcare design theories like experience-based design, virtual prototyping and its application in the AEC domain, and finally potential use of game engines to develop interactive virtual prototypes. Based on the literature reviewed, the EVPS concept was introduced, which combined theories of scenario-based design, virtual prototyping and healthcare design reviews. The literature review indicates that developing the EVPS would enhance the design review with end- users of healthcare facilities. The next chapter on research methodology lays down the steps and research methodology adopted to design, develop, implement and assess the EVPS.

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link to Chapter 3. http://www.joelsolkoff.com/chapter-3-dr-kumars-thesis-on-virtual-reality-modeling/

Note: Under construction link to Chapter 3.

Copyright 2013 by Sonali Kumar. All rights reserved. Thesis published on this site by the express permission of Sonali Kumar.

 

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