Seeing from the users’ eyes

The extent to which designers can understand users often determines the quality of design outcomes. A deep understanding of users allows the designers to focus on the right problem and make optimal design decisions, which encouraged designers to empathize with users. However, the current imagination-based empathizing strategy appears to be too susceptible to their previous experience and knowledge, which has been questioned concerning effectiveness and accuracy. On the other hand, Virtual Reality (VR) technology provides an opportunity for designers to gain experience-driven empathy by immersing them in a virtual environment that mimics the users’ surroundings as if they are seeing the world from users’ eyes. While abundant studies covered empathy VR and empathy for design, limited attention has been paid to the chance of bringing VR, empathy, and design research together. Addressing this gap, this study explored literature across domains, identified major concerns about this approach, synthesized the evidence, and discussed the feasibility and validity of the VR-based empathic design research approach.