Title: Integration of virtual reality and haptics to carry out ergonomic tests on virtual control boards

Authors: Giorgio Colombo, Franco De Angelis, Luca Formentini

Addresses: Dipartimento di Meccanica, Politecnico di Milano, Via G. La Masa, 34, 20158 Milano, Italy. ' Dipartimento di Meccanica, Politecnico di Milano, Via G. La Masa, 34, 20158 Milano, Italy. ' Dipartimento di Meccanica, Politecnico di Milano, Via G. La Masa, 34, 20158 Milano, Italy

Abstract: This work presents the results of a research project that evaluated the possibility to carry out ergonomic analyses on virtual prototypes that permitted tactile interaction. We propose an approach based on Virtual Reality (VR) and haptics: the former to improve visual rendering of a digital model, the latter to permit tactile interaction. The products considered were control boards. Atomic components such as knobs, sliders and buttons are employed. The paper presents the architecture of an ergonomic workstation and its first implementation based on commercial systems and ad hoc haptic devices specifically developed for the purpose. Major problems related to a VR environment, such as visualisation and human body tracking, are discussed; the architecture of haptic devices and technical solutions to achieve a satisfactory haptic rendering are presented. Finally, the paper proposes a test procedure and presents the results of tests on the behaviour of ergonomic workstation components. Work in progress and future developments conclude the paper.

Keywords: virtual reality; haptics; virtual prototyping; ergonomic tests; control boards; ergonomics; human factors; digital modelling; tactile interaction; ergonomic workstations; visualisation; human body tracking; haptic devices.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPD.2010.032989

International Journal of Product Development, 2010 Vol.11 No.1/2, pp.47 - 61

Published online: 06 May 2010 *

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