Controlling simulations of human-artifact interaction with scenario bundles

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We introduce a methodology for modeling and simulating fully virtual human-artifact systems, aiming to resolve two issues in virtual prototyping: (i) integration of distinct modeling and simulation approaches, and (ii) extending the deployability of simulations towards conceptual design. We are going to offer designers a new way of investigating the use of a product, by integrating scenarios of expected human-artifact interaction and simulations of artifact behavior into a unified framework. The proposed simulation method is fully virtual, which is an advantage if recruitment and employment of human subjects for physical and virtual testing is problematic. The models incorporate both logical and physical aspects of the behaviors of humans and artifacts. This paper elaborates on the logical modeling and simulation elements, which are used to create scenario bundles that capture multiple possible ways of how virtual users interact with products, and represent the control that humans exert during interaction. We will present an outline of the fundamental theory and a pilot implementation that we applied for applicability testing to obtain a proof of the concept. We found that within limitations imposed by the commercial software we used, we could run simulations of virtual human-product interaction during the use of a product with sufficient fidelity. These simulations involved various basic human-artifact interactions, such as reaching, operating a button, and grasping. They provided useful knowledge on the improvements needed to develop a full-fledged dedicated simulation package, which will eventually offer designers the possibility to model scenario bundles and run simulations to investigate interactions with variations of concept designs and of interaction parameters.