As virtual and augmented reality continue to grow and develop, it’s no surprise that companies and designers are looking towards these fields to understand how consumers think. We recently wrote a story about Ford’s VR design studio where designers can see a 3D mockup of a car with all of its features including style, color, and accessories. This allows the designers to experience first hand how the car will potentially look in real life.
Ford is not the only company using virtual reality to understand the experience of a product or service. Other companies are looking to the use of VR and AR in their research about new products and services to understand a little better just how consumers are going to react. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president of Shikatani Lacroix, an immersive design company, is using VR and AR techniques to get a sense of consumer reactions to his company’s designs and spatial layouts.
In an interview with Ilise Benum of howdesign.com, Lacroix stated that,” VR and AR allow for designers to engage consumers on an experiential journey and physical journey without having to actually build the store.” The process of including VR and AR allows for consumer testing to be done much earlier in the design process. Instead of having to create a real prototype and seeing how test consumers react and then rethinking the prototype, designers can use this new technology to create the virtual product and the virtual space in which the product will be used to better understand how the consumer will feel.
“The closer we can get as designers to reality the closer we can build a store or package where the consumer can hold it in their hands and feel it, the more accurate the reading will be on their likelihood of the consumer to purchase this product,” Lacroix says.
Lacroix’s method also uses neuroscience to understand and test consumer reactions in addition to the standard focus group method of research. The goal is to make brands more effectively connect with consumers. One of the experiences they are in the process of testing is that of a retail bank. The designed prototype is viewed in VR by test consumers to see if the layout is comfortable and easy to navigate. Using an EEG headset along with the virtual space and focus groups, Lacroix is getting a more well rounded view of the potential consumer.
As VR and AR technology gets more advanced, I’m sure its use in the design process will become even more prevalent. It could potentially be a very cost and time effective way to get “hands-on” earlier in the process and making decisions about the final design.
Originally written for The New School TechTalk