The new automated evaluation technology developed by Dr. Patrick Harms of the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Göttingen runs in three steps. First, the individual activities and movements of test persons are recorded in detail using Virtual Reality (VR). The results are activity lists. In a second step, the computer program MAUSI-VR developed by Harms automatically searches these lists for typical user behavior. In the third step, this behavior is evaluated by the program with regard to defined abnormalities. "This makes it possible, among other things, to determine how well users of a VR are guided by it and whether they usually have to perform ergonomically unfavourable procedures during operation," says Harms. In addition, the program recognizes interaction problems that cause users to repeat or abort certain processes several times.
Harms chose two virtual scenarios to test his new technology: In the "coffee scene," the user should fetch a cup, place it exactly under the coffee machine and press the appropriate button. In another virtual scenario, the user had to copy a piece of paper. The concept of MAUSI-VR is based on preliminary work of the research group "Software Technology for Distributed Systems" around Prof. Dr. Jens Grabowski, Institute for Computer Science at the University of Göttingen, on the automated usability evaluation of websites and desktop software. This work was transferred into the virtual world and supplemented by Harms.
"In contrast to manual evaluations, automated evaluations can take place more frequently, more cost-effectively and without special preparation both during the development of a VR and after its publication. This gives developers the opportunity to consider VR improvements at short notice in the next revision of the software.