Competence transfer in virtual realities: Can virtual reality bring products and services together?

Work. 2022;72(4):1727-1743. doi: 10.3233/WOR-211244.


Background: The virtual and real worlds of work are increasingly merging through digital transformation. This also applies to products and services. Virtual Reality (VR) with all its learning opportunities is a promising technology to improve workflows and enable transparency between different departments and organizations. This transparency is particularly important when it comes to preventing potentially dangerous work situations.

Objective: We investigate weaknesses in competence transfer processes between computer-aided designers and service employees connected in a hybrid value chain. On the one hand, designers receive only little feedback, hence are missing necessary evaluation to adjust their designs to empirical specifications. On the other hand, service employees, therefore, work with sometimes impractical machine designs which makes their work on-site unergonomic, dangerous, and more difficult.

Methods: We present a design science-driven, empirical approach to provide enhanced competence transfer with the help of VR. Thereby, we evaluate a self-developed VR demonstrator with an iterative approach consisting of 60 qualitative interviews.

Results: The developed VR demonstrator supports interorganizational sharing of (tacit) knowledge by enabling designers to take the service perspective and ensuring collaboration across organizational boundaries. By intentionally using VR technology as an interruption to the work, the design can be viewed from a service perspective and evaluated for occupational safety and health issues.

Conclusions: The work process improvements achieved by the VR demonstrator enable early consideration of design issues that are particularly relevant to safety, thus ensuring greater occupational safety and health protection in the processes for service employees.

Keywords: Design science research; collaboration; interruption; perspective taking; tacit knowledge transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Computers
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Learning
  • Virtual Reality*