Electrolux praises virtual reality and eye tracking for product development

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Virtual reality and eye tracking are changing the way product designers work, as this case study on a recent project involving Swedish multinational home appliance manufacturer Electrolux, Enterprise XR company Vobling and HTC Vive demonstrates

Quick read

➨ Electrolux enlisted Nordic enterprise XR company Vobling to develop a virtual reality-based prototyping and testing environment for upcoming home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines
➨ The home appliance manufacturer used the environment to conduct design reviews and inspect prototypes, “allowing a new level of flexibility and efficiency”
➨ Vobling chose the HTC Vive Pro Eye as the virtual reality headset for the programme because it is integrated with Tobii eye tracking, which offers the ability to capture deeper insights by understanding where consumers focus their attention

The story

Swedish multinational home appliance manufacturer Electrolux is using the advanced eye tracking capabilities of the HTC Vive Pro Eye to conduct virtual consumer testing ahead of product launches.

Electrolux enlisted Nordic enterprise XR company Vobling, which launched VR Fire Trainer on Oculus Quest earlier this year, to develop a virtual reality-based prototyping and testing environment for upcoming home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.

The home appliance manufacturer used the environment to conduct design reviews and inspect prototypes, “allowing a new level of flexibility and efficiency”, according to a recently released case study.

Within the interactive virtual reality environment, consumers are able to open doors, turn knobs and alternate machine settings, while Electrolux can review their reactions and incorporate that feedback into its product development process.

Electrolux’s own designers can also experience products under development in an immersive environment, so they are able to provide specific directions and make more informed decisions.

Vobling brought competitor models into the virtual reality environment, enabling Electrolux to conduct customer focus group testing on both its own upcoming models and the competition.

This is why Vobling chose the Vive Pro Eye as the virtual reality headset for the programme. It is integrated with Tobii eye tracking, which offers the ability to capture deeper insights by understanding where consumers focus their attention.

According to the case study, this type of consumer testing usually requires prototypes and competitor products to be shipped to consumers, but using virtual reality and the HTC Vive Pro Eye meant these tests could be carried out simultaneously and without that added cost.

Vobling utilised heat map eye tracking to identify which product features captured the attention of the focus group participants.

Virtual reality and eye tracking “are in many ways fundamentally changing the way we work”, said Tove Forsberg, project portfolio manager at Electrolux Group Design.

Forsberg continued: “The power of customers actually experiencing our products before they even exist is a great opportunity for us.”

On the potential of virtual reality for Electrolux’s own product designers, Forsberg said: “We can iterate rapidly on our 3D models and try them out again and again. We can try out experiences that just aren’t possible with physical mock-ups.”

“Furthermore, we can easily share with our internal stakeholders with collaboration sessions in VR. This means it’s easier for us to involve everyone in different stages of our process, which is beneficial for an efficient design process.”

Anders Ribbing, chief executive officer of Vobling and head of enterprise at its parent company, Bublar Group, added: “It’s been a real privilege to work with the highly skilled design team at Electrolux.”

“By utilising the HTC Vive Pro Eye, we’ve made it possible to gather new insights and data, and to enable more rapid prototyping processes that we hope will support Electrolux in their ongoing quest of creating world-class products.”

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Image: Electrolux’s virtual reality environment

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