This post is the last of four on how quality assurance and quality review processes can be augmented with virtual reality and immersive review.
Immersive Quality Assurance Process for Projects
From Concept Design to Construction Documentation
Model exploration can happen at the comfort of a designer's desk and is one of the more informal ways of implementing QA with projects in Virtual Reality. By using IrisVR Prospect with a desktop-based headset like the Oculus Rift -- design changes can be verified quickly and iteratively as they are made. You can also use the HTC Vive for model exploration but we've found that it is best suited for areas where you can take advantage of its room-scale capabilities.
Immersive Quality Control Process for Projects
From Concept Design to Design Development
Traditional peer reviews are typically conducted by another local architect or engineer. This can be very beneficial since it is an unbiased way to gather feedback from other experts. There are currently not many firms that specialize in peer reviews with virtual reality, but we anticipate that existing companies will begin to develop methods around this form of review and begin to offer it as a service in the next couple of years.
Internal immersive review within project teams can happen as informal desk critiques or more formal meetings. Throughout the design process, designers iterate through many different designs for each project. As you progress through SD and DD virtual reality ensures that each team member experiences the same true-to-scale environment to reduce misunderstandings within the team in effect, your team is also assuring quality on a continuous basis, giving you the opportunity to control expectations along the way.
Informal Desk Critiques
These desk critiques can happen at your firm whenever it makes sense to get external feedback from other team members nearby. There are many firms that organize their desks into pods whereby a breakout table makes for a great way to sync up. For these types of informal review, an Oculus Rift is easy enough to use.
While similar to peer review, formal reviews are best performed not just by the project team but should ideally be conducted by a firm staff member not associated with the project. Alternatively, having someone on your team who will be responsible for the project's construction contract administration might be helpful. In any case, being prepared with a checklist to go through before and during the meeting can help focus conversation around key design decisions while making the best use of all the participant's time.
Client review meetings are critical to the successful delivery of a project. We'll be addressing these type of review meetings in a separate series of posts but felt it was important to add it here in order to properly recognize it as a part of the quality assurance and control process. Ultimately, your client is an important stakeholder within the project and their feedback should be collected frequently in order to make sure expectations on a project are all aligned. Assuring and controlling the quality of your conversation with clients is a business decision that has implications beyond the immediate project. In the world of architecture, the majority of top-line revenue is attributable to word of mouth and returning clients -- being able to provide a differentiated level of service, coupled with great design work will help ensure recurring work.
Constructability reviews may overlap the previous two review types in scope, but as its name suggests, are focused on the mechanics of physically constructing the structure. Thus, this type of review is best conducted by a contractor or construction manager. A constructability review looks at the design and determines if the work can be constructed as shown, or if special procedures or equipment may be necessary (thus adding cost) to achieve the indicated construction. The results of this review may offer alternate ways of achieving the same design goal but at a lower cost, which could be considered a form of value analysis (VA) (also called value engineering, or VE).
- Avoid costly change orders once something has been built by identifying potential construction issues before construction
- Anticipate cost increases before they occur by identifying if special procedures or equipment may be necessary
- Identify alternate ways of achieving the same design goal but at a lower cost (also known as value analysis (VA) or value engineering (VE)
Usability reviews are practices adapted from the world of User Experience design. By implementing usability reviews with key stakeholders, your project team can gather valuable insight into design decisions through the use of goal-oriented prompts and through the use of virtual reality. Usability testing involves asking potential or current stakeholders of projects to complete a set of goal-directed tasks, and observing their behavior to determine the clarity of the proposed design. There are two ways in which to go about implementing usability tests, moderated and unmoderated. The most available method with current software workflows is moderated.
- Moderated usability tests happen in person. In a moderated test a facilitator sits and talks with the guest stakeholder, reading aloud a goal-oriented task and prompting the user to think aloud as he or she accomplishes the task. In the context of design spaces, one might take healthcare design as a fruitful example where the cost of ineffective wayfinding design can be expensive. If one were to implement a moderated usability test in healthcare, the goal-oriented task might look be framed as:
"You are currently in the lobby of a large hospital facility. Where is the ICU from here?"
- The facilitator’s role is to act as a conduit between stakeholders and the user, phrasing questions to evaluate the effectiveness of a design and test assumptions while helping the user feel comfortable with the process. In the aforementioned question, recording the time it takes to find the appropriate sign that would lead a visitor to the ICU can prove incredibly helpful in outcomes of the design process.