J. Mech. Des 138(3), 031103 (Feb 01, 2016); doi: 10.1115/1.4032396
Digital prototype (DP), as a form of communication media, allows designers to communicate design concepts to users by rendering the physical characteristics, e.g., size, colour, and texture. One important aspect is how well users can estimate the values of the physical characteristics of design concepts through interactions with DPs. Better estimates can lead to better perceptions of the designed attributes closely associated with the physical characteristics, and hence, useful user feedback about design concepts. The correctness of the estimates depends on two crucial factors: the ability of DPs to render physical characteristics and the way DPs are used to communicate physical characteristics in a particular environment and via different input/output devices. To date, little attention has been paid to the latter. Hence, it is important to identify an effective way of using DPs via the effectiveness assessment of various possibilities. This paper introduces a methodology for evaluating the effectiveness of communicating physical characteristics to users using DPs. During user interactions with DPs, the methodology collects user estimates of various physical characteristics and assesses the estimates on three dimensions, i.e., degree of correctness, time to make an estimate and handling of different values. The assessments are then evaluated by statistical analysis to reveal the effectiveness of the way of engaging DPs in helping users correctly and quickly estimate the values. The evaluated effectiveness reflects how successful the way of using a DP is, and also helps to suggest a better approach.