Virtual Reality Ship Surveys

A virtual reality application for the HTC Vive. This project for DNV GL uses VR and piloted drones, allowing engineers to perform safe and efficient remote surveys of cargo ships.

Product /service -  Virtual reality application, enabling engineers to carry out remote safety inspections of cargo ship and tanker hulls with improved safety and efficiency. 
Project - Deliver 'proof of concept' prototype for the HTC Vive, showing that VR has practical applications in the maritime engineering world.
Duration - 3 months
Team - UX designer, VR developer, UI developer, product owner, domain expert users.
Activities - User research, scope and opportunity mapping, storyboarding, concept visuals, story mapping, UI and interaction design for VR, 2D and 3D UI asset creation, user testing.
Deliverables - Working VR prototype application, user testing results, roadmap for future development.
Outcome - Senior stakeholders persuaded to invest in future development, key 'showcase' project for DNV GL.
The prototype application in use. Shows how users move about a 3D representation of the vessel, reviewing photo evidence of suspected damage, provided by a remote drone. Users can score and annotate photos as they go, refer to historical data from other vessels, and control the drone remotely to gather additional footage when needed.
Digital concept illustration, enabling the software team to quickly communicate our vision to stakeholders and the public. We needed to explain the change in use from current working methods to the new proposal. Rather than exploring ships themselves, users would explore a 3D representation in VR, with a remote drone providing imagery that is overlaid on to the 3D model. Created using Adobe suite and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
We began with user research, mapping out the current tasks required for a successful ship survey, identifying pain points, risks and new ideas. We used this to inform UX, but also to prioritise our backlog, putting the highest value features for users and the business, first. To persuade engineers to adopt this new technology, we needed a design that fitted with their working methods, and offered attractive benefits above and beyond what they have today.
Whiteboard sketches used to work out a UI design. Design for VR required many iterations to explore which UI controls and interactions worked best on the platform. I worked closely with our developers, making extensive use of sketches and quick 3D models to quickly convey ideas.
We created a range of experimental methods for navigating the 3D vessel in VR, as way-finding in such a dark, cramped space proves a serious issue for many users today.
We tested with users to explore practicality, settling on controller-mounted indicators (right) which didn't restrict vision, and could be brought into view intuitively when needed.
Left - A range of quick, prototype UI elements, built for user testing to determine the most suitable for our application.
Right - 3D camera objects and UI panels anchored on the controllers, which proved most successful and hence were detailed further.
Left - Concept sketch (Autodesk Sketchbook Pro) for short-range travel control.
Right - Prototype control demonstrated in early application build.
Left - Concept sketch (Autodesk Sketchbook Pro) for long-range travel control.
Right - Prototype control demonstrated in early application build.
3D sketch objects created in Solidworks to enable fast prototyping and testing of UI components.
Detailed mockups for UI menu controls in VR. We used one small, controller-mounted panel, and a larger, free-floating panel which could be anchored and re-positioned within the environment. Additionally, some UI controls proved most intuitive as 3D, semantic objects such as cameras and speakers. We tried to make the most of learned behaviour by building physical controls on to these such as buttons and handles.
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