Development of an interactive virtual environment to evaluate usability tests in work safety applications - Investigation of the usability of protective devices of work equipment in commercial sectors

Project No. FF-FP 0279


completed 05/2010


Badly designed human-machine-interfaces frequently lead to operation errors. Human-machine-interfaces are often designed in such a way that this causes cognitive misinterpretations which in turn result in mistakes. The objective of this research project was to investigate at a prototype to what extent it is possible to conduct directed usability tests on working machines avoiding any real threat to subjects.


- Modeling and simulation of a lathe in the Immersion Square visualization environment at the Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences
- Modeling of display and control panel of a lathe for Virtual Reality applications
- Dynamic simulation of the sounds of the machine and background noises
- Investigations of subjects that are operating lathes including surveys


The major objective of this research project, if it is possible to conduct investigations on work safety of machines in a virtual environment, can clearly be confirmed. In favor of this, both the performance data (match of performance with predicted degree of difficulty of the task) and the high acceptance rate of the investigation by the subjects support the original hypothesis.
Another outcome is that for future investigations on work safety in virtual environments the quality of the display should be kept in focus. This applies especially to the resolution of the display, the perspective of the user to the screens (best solution would be a variable perspective, provided by head-tracking) and the synchronization of sensory cues of different sensory organs (vision, audio, etc.).
It has been shown, that dangerous situations of working machines can be simulated in such a way, so that it is now possible to investigate work safety solutions in a risk reduced environment. It is for example possible to conduct directed investigations of safety mechanisms in virtual reality to discover if they work properly or if they put additional constrain to the users.
Safety mechanisms that hinder the user during his work procedures are often manipulated. These manipulations might cause severe accidents which show the importance of constructing and evaluating these mechanisms very carefully.

Last Update:

5 Nov 2010


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e.V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

design of work and technology


Gefährdung durch Wahrnehmung, Handhabbarkeit, Sicherheitstechnik, Technikgestaltung

Description, key words:

virtual environment, usability, protective devices