Enabling Sociability When Using Virtual Reality Applications: A Design Science Research Approach

AbstractImmersive virtual reality applications aim at providing an all-encompassing spatial experience where a user can feel like being in another world or dimension. The systems are inherently designed for individual use as the devices disconnect the user from the physical environment. However, the applications are seldom used alone. Specifically, when used for sales and marketing, the user often needs help from other people but also benefits from social interaction as a part of the experience. Design research methodology is applied to three iterative development versions of a virtual-reality application. The focus of the evaluation of the artifacts is in the social use emphasizing three sociability factors: shared knowledge, mutual trust and influence. According to the findings, the users prefer personal social interaction as a part of the experience. Thus, the social aspect should be emphasized in the service design.

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