A knowledge-based perspective on VR applications in the New Product Development process. : An exploratory case study
Abstract: In order to sustain and compete in the globalized market, firms are in the continuous development of their new product development (NPD) process. Multiple researchers have studied how to achieve a well-functioning process, by developing theories and capturing its characteristics with models. As a result of the technological revolution, firms and researchers have acknowledged the potential benefits of technologies, and adopted them into NPD processes. Virtual reality, as one of the emerging technologies, has been highlighted by its benefits based on its immersive characteristics. Present studies argue for virtual reality of being an aiding tool in terms of cost and time reduction during the development process. By acknowledging its already defined benefits in previous literature, this thesis adopts a knowledge perspective and pursues benefits of VR as a tool for communicating knowledge. Thus, exploring how it could be used within the NPD process, with the purpose of aiding the communication. During the thesis an exploratory case study was performed by making observations and conducting 11 interviews with actors involved in the NPD process of the focal company. The findings highlighted that with the preexisting tools (CAD-systems & physical prototypes), the communication during concept/product development and alignment meetings was often ambiguous. Moreover, we identified knowledge asymmetry between actors in the NPD process as the main communication barrier, contributing to increased ambiguity. Lastly, the results motivated the use of virtual reality, as an aiding tool for improving knowledge transfer and reducing knowledge asymmetry by easing communication of in-depth factual and procedural knowledge between departments, domains, through visualizations of concepts and products throughout the NPD process. Thus, reducing ambiguity. The thesis, therefore, concludes that virtual reality can be used as a visualizing communication tool within the front-end phase and throughout the formal NPD.
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