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Immersive Process Model Exploration in Virtual Reality

André Zenner; Akhmajon Makhsadov; Sören Klingner; David Liebemann; Antonio Krüger
In: IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG), Vol. 26, No. 5, Pages 2104-2114, IEEE, 5/2020.


In many professional domains, relevant processes are documented as abstract process models, such as event-driven process chains (EPCs). EPCs are traditionally visualized as 2D graphs and their size varies with the complexity of the process. While process modeling experts are used to interpreting complex 2D EPCs, in certain scenarios such as, for example, professional training or education, also novice users inexperienced in interpreting 2D EPC data are facing the challenge of learning and understanding complex process models. To communicate process knowledge in an effective yet motivating and interesting way, we propose a novel virtual reality (VR) interface for non-expert users. Our proposed system turns the exploration of arbitrarily complex EPCs into an interactive and multi-sensory VR experience. It automatically generates a virtual 3D environment from a process model and lets users explore processes through a combination of natural walking and teleportation. Our immersive interface leverages basic gamification in the form of a logical walkthrough mode to motivate users to interact with the virtual process. The generated user experience is entirely novel in the field of immersive data exploration and supported by a combination of visual, auditory, vibrotactile and passive haptic feedback. In a user study with N = 27 novice users, we evaluate the effect of our proposed system on process model understandability and user experience, while comparing it to a traditional 2D interface on a tablet device. The results indicate a tradeoff between efficiency and user interest as assessed by the UEQ novelty subscale, while no significant decrease in model understanding performance was found using the proposed VR interface. Our investigation highlights the potential of multi-sensory VR for less time-critical professional application domains, such as employee training, communication, education, and related scenarios focusing on user interest.


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