The ultimate vision of VERITAS is:
- To translate the accumulated knowledge on ICT accessibility to parameters of the virtual user models (including task models) and simulation models for a variety of applications.
- To test the validity and applicability of these virtual user models in real accessibility testing scenarios using an innovative multisensorial platform.
- To create a set of simulation models building on the experience already gathered via testing accessibility in various applications domains.
- To integrate all the above into VERITAS knowledge, which will serve as a reference to the existing ICT accessibility know how.
To achieve this VERITAS will furthermore develop:
- The core simulation and the immersive platforms for providing support to the developers and designers at all the stages of product development.
- The exportable toolbox in order to export the virtual user and the simulation models to existing developer/design platforms that are already used for the design/development of mainstream ICT and non-ICT products.
Achieving all these goals VERITAS is expected to operationalise and potentially revolutionalise the accessibility testing at all stages of design and development of new products in five very important industrial domains.
Following user scenario example explains how VERITAS aims to improve the design of smart living spaces:
With VERITAS Robert is managing an architect office in downtown Brussels, and is specialised in the design and architecture of public buildings. For this he also works together with a Belgian construction company that has specialized in the building of accessible building.
In recent years, also through the introduction of relevant legislation, all building designs have to consider full accessibility of all groups of citizens. While standard measures and design concept are known to Robert, he did since one year VERITAS into the office common practices after several trials showed that errors in the design were drastically reduced and that potential bottlenecks were highlighted even before blueprints were produced. The entire architecture and design group makes use of Autocad. This programme has VERITAS integrated, thus ensuring that the staff did not have to acquire new skills, but could continue working with their familiar programs.
A typical working cycle is as follow now:
- The first draft design is made in Autocad and is discussed with the entire team. Any changes needed are made according to the needs of the customer. This results in a first draft blueprint.
- This first draft is subsequently validated using VERITAS tools: Different end-user groups can be simulated entering and using the facilities: lavatories, workplace, kitchen, reception, parking spaces, etc.; In case a bottleneck is discovered, VERITAS automatically indicated where the problem is situated and provides suggestions how this could be improved.
- As a result of the previous step, a second draft blue print is prepared and is submitted to a panel of accessibility experts that works together on a regular basis with the architect office. This is a standard practice applied which has helped the office also in better understanding the user needs. Also here VERITAS simulation is used to clarify the environment in a 3D setting. Potential bottleneck that were highlighted are shown, as well as the solution.
- The final design is then presented to the customer who can then make any additional design changes if needed.
Since applying VERITAS, modifications afterwards hardly occurred. And if they did occur, then they were relatively minor changes that did not touch the overall building concept. Another benefit has been that the time from first rough design to final design has been substantially smoothened and streamlined, while also shortened considerably. In addition, it has given his office a good reputation, thus getting an increasing number of contracts.
VERITAS’ objectives are:
- To investigate and develop an open library of various categories of virtual user models, including VR models, covering a wide range of population groups and especially focusing on groups in risk of exclusion, e.g. older people, people with disability (vision, hearing, speech, motor), people with co-existent condition, etc.
- To develop an Open Simulation Platform (OSP) for virtual reality simulation and testing of new products at all stages of iterative product planning and development, i.e. specification, design, development, validation and testing.
- To develop an extensive list of virtual reality tools for supporting accessibility testing at all stages of development of existing applications, of partners of the VERITAS consortium, in the following domains: a) automotive, b) smart living spaces, c) workplace design, d) infotainment and e) personal healthcare and wellbeing.
- To research and develop methodologies for introducing the VERITAS simulation and testing framework, including the virtual user and the simulation models, to a wide variety of ICT and non-ICT applications.
- To research and develop a framework for immersive virtual user simulation and testing, i.e. putting the developer in the position of the user through virtual/augmented reality simulation.
- To define measures and metrics for evaluating software accessibility for every application scenario during design and development through VR simulation (graphs, statistics, distance metrics in general).
- To research and develop innovative concepts for ambient, multi-device, universally accessible and usable multimodal interfaces through VR simulation.