The last stage of the AREEF project was the user evaluation, which was carried out at the end of October 2013 by Fraunhofer FIT in Darmstadt and Siegburg, Germany. The game was tested in real conditions in a swimming pool by children between 8 and 12 years old. In the evaluation the children were first instructed to the game and were then observed while playing it from inside and outside the pool by Fraunhofer FIT researchers. Each child was finally interviewed, filling a questionnaire.
The evaluation was split into a pilot and final evaluation. The pilot evaluation took place in Darmstadt, Germany on September 30th with three children. It was not only helpful in improving the experience of the game, but also to determine the feasibility of the evaluation-plan. It allowed establishing a routine in the team, since evaluating technology with children is challenging.
The final evaluation in Siegburg was intended to take place with a much higher number of participants. The call for participants was distributed by local media on October 15th (Stadt-Anzeiger Köln, Generalanzeiger Bonn), bringing forward 36 volunteers being evaluated within one week. The evaluation was also covered by the media and aired by national television (WDR Lokalzeit, October 24th). It was also covered by print media (Stadt-Anzeiger Köln, October 25th and Bild der Wissenschaft Plus, published January 8th).
In the final evaluation a comprehensive amount of data was collected, comprised of qualitative and quantitative data from the questionnaire, and quantitative data from the game log files. Feedback from children regarding the idea and the hardware & software implementation was overwhelmingly positive. Many children asked for more virtual scenery or more play-time in upcoming versions, and the majority expressed strong interest in commercialization, since they would like to rent the AREEF system in the future.