One of the key challenges in innovation acceptance research is to actually create the experience of a new technology at a time when this new technology is still under development. In order to have a valid measurement of consumer beliefs and attitudes towards a new technology, the participants need to be able to have a most realistic experience of the technology in question. This can be accomplished with early prototypes, as we employed them in our air taxi research. But for many new technologies even prototypes are not available or not legally usable, as in the case of autonomous cars in Europe. Therefore we employ a wide range of simulation tools, ranging from high-tech, such as Virtual and Augmented Reality, to more mundane techniques such as story telling. Here is an overview of the most common simulation tools used.
This applies to all technologies that can be technologically and legally demonstrated to a participants in an open or private setting (clinic setting ensuring discretion). For instance we employed a life demo flight of an air taxi as part of our research program on this technology.
Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality (VR&AR)
This new technology helps participants to immerse into a situation with a new technology, which is not yet available. While generating a intensive virtual experience is challenging, it generally needs less resources than building a physical prototype and can be accomplished faster. Also it can solve issues with exiting legal restrictions for instance by allowing participants to experience a virtual reality flight in an air taxi or a virtual reality drive in an autonomous vehicle.
Video Image Rendering
If VR and AR are not available often the second best and more economical solution is to create a high-resolution video rendering of a new technology. This could for example be used to make participants understand what a journey in an hyperloop system will be like. However, due to the lacking immersion, responses will be more biased than in the simulations types mentioned before.
Story-Telling / Scenario Development
The most classical, yet still widely employed method of simulation is making participants read a written scenario. Depending on how well the scenario is written, participants can immerse deeply into a written story. The challenge, however, is to make the scenario so detailed that the story participants develop is the same across everyone. Companies such as SciFutures have perfected this technique, employing real science fiction authors for their scenario development.