Applying Embodied Design Improvisation for Physical Interaction in Augmented and Virtual Reality

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Background This study focuses on the early steps of using embodied design improvisation to create augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications specifically for therapeutic physical activities. Embodied design improvisation is a generative technique to provoke embodied interaction. In three-dimensional digital spaces such as VR and AR, embodied interaction leads users to interact with objects and spatial environments that are simulated virtually. This paper notes that it is necessary to use embodied design improvisation as the first step for designing a physically embodied interaction experience in the VR space. This paper uses VR physical therapy as a case study to show how embodied design improvisation is used to develop design elements for engaging users in VR. Methods We propose that designers naturally perceive the intended design, but simultaneously, they need a way to actually create that vision. Some design researchers have adopted embodied design improvisation to develop an effective process for designers to understand, think through and evaluate interactions during the design process. Based on previous research on embodied design improvisation, this paper more thoroughly applies the approach to the VR space, where physical actions are important. First, we investigated the literature on embodied design improvisation and physical interactions in VR. Second, we conducted a workshop to explore diverse and intuitive body movements and combined them for storyboarding and prototyping with physical, video, and Wizard of Oz (WOz) techniques. These methods enabled us to both reveal and evaluate appropriate interactions for implementing physical interactions in AR/VR. Results We discovered patterns of motions, gestures, and interactions that are most often tacitly employed, and we determined the time needed to build real practical structures. These results were reflected by designing VR prototypes and having health professionals evaluate them, specifically with regards to the effectiveness of therapeutic physical activities. Conclusions We focused on the early stage of design: how designers can use embodied design improvisation to effectively create embodied interaction in AR/VR, specifically where physical interaction is important for effective results of physical therapy and education. This paper explains the concept and methodology of embodied design improvisation in which designers can adapt to create embodied interaction in physical interaction-based VR activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Design Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Augmented and Virtual Reality
  • Embodied Design Improvisation
  • Embodied Interaction
  • Prototype Development
  • Design Research


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