Perceived Usability of Seating in an Outpatient Waiting Area: A Combined Approach Utilizing Virtual Reality and Actual Seating Prototypes
This study proposed a combined methodology to evaluate the perceived usability of healthcare seats that were first selected in a virtual waiting room which provided the context of use for the seats.Background:
There has been an increased interest in using virtual reality (VR) for evaluation of seating in interior environments. Although VR offers a less expensive approach compared to evaluating seats in situ, using VR has limitations as users cannot experience the actual seat prototypes.Method:
Participants (N = 92) experienced a virtual waiting room with various seat groupings and were prompted with four task-based scenarios through which they selected a seat. After the VR phase, they experienced their selected seats in a lab and used an online questionnaire to evaluate the seating. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to garner similarities and differences in participants’ experience of virtual and real seats.Results:
Three categories including comfort, support, and flexibility were extracted from the questionnaire. While support and comfort categories were highly ranked by participants, the category rankings varied depending on participants’ age, gender, tasks, and seat types. Interviews revealed that there were differences in experience of the seating materials in VR versus reality, and therefore experiencing the real seats was useful in seating evaluation.Conclusions:
The findings suggest that the combined methodology using VR and real seating in a lab is a reliable tool for designers and furniture manufacturers to obtain users’ perceived usability evaluation of seating during the design process while the actual context is absent.