University of Oulu

Hu, X., Nanjappan, V., & Georgiev, G. (2021). SEEING FROM THE USERS’ EYES: AN OUTLOOK TO VIRTUAL-REALITY BASED EMPATHIC DESIGN RESEARCH. Proceedings of the Design Society, 1, 2601-2610. doi:10.1017/pds.2021.521

Seeing from the users’ eyes : an outlook to virtual-reality based empathic design research

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Author: Hu, Xinhui1; Nanjappan, Vijayakumar1; Georgiev, Georgi V.1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Cambridge University Press, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-03-24


The extent to which designers can understand users often determines the quality of design outcomes. A deep understanding of users allows the designers to focus on the right problem and make optimal design decisions, which encouraged designers to empathize with users. However, the current imagination-based empathizing strategy appears to be too susceptible to their previous experience and knowledge, which has been questioned concerning effectiveness and accuracy. On the other hand, Virtual Reality (VR) technology provides an opportunity for designers to gain experience-driven empathy by immersing them in a virtual environment that mimics the users’ surroundings as if they are seeing the world from users’ eyes. While abundant studies covered empathy VR and empathy for design, limited attention has been paid to the chance of bringing VR, empathy, and design research together. Addressing this gap, this study explored literature across domains, identified major concerns about this approach, synthesized the evidence, and discussed the feasibility and validity of the VR-based empathic design research approach.

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Series: Proceedings of the Design Society
ISSN: 2732-527X
ISSN-E: 2732-527X
ISSN-L: 2732-527X
Pages: 2601 - 2610
DOI: 10.1017/pds.2021.521
Host publication: Proceedings of the Design Society, 23rd International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2021, 16th - 20th August 2021, Gothenburg, Sweden
Conference: International Conference on Engineering Design
Type of Publication: A4 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This research has been financially supported by Academy of Finland 6 Genesis Flagship (Grant 318927).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 318927
Detailed Information: 318927 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.