Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, accessible for people with physical disabilities

A developer shows the possibilities of a ‘software’ to adapt without modifying the physical controls of virtual reality to people with reduced mobility.

In its simplified definition, virtual reality “allows the generation of environments that break the usual restrictions of space-time, which makes possible the generation of movement, exchange and communication.

“This means that movements made in the real world are picked up and moved through controls and sensors to the virtual world. And although the virtual world may disobey the physical rules in practice, it happens that every limitation of movement in the physical world is also transferred to the virtual world.

So for a person who uses a wheelchair, who is bedridden, or who has an immobilized or amputated arm, his or her limitations to move freely are an impediment to moving freely in virtual environments as well, which is somewhat contradictory given the possibilities offered by virtual reality.

“The desire to recreate body movements in a virtual environment in a realistic and precise way is leaving people with physical disabilities out,” they say in Make.

Greg Bednarski has developed Walkin VR for the purpose of resolving this inconsistency. Greg’s software consists of a software wizard that allows people with limited or reduced mobility to make use of virtual reality without their physical limitations being an impediment.

Although virtual reality platforms such as SteamVR allow a series of configuration adjustments to be made to adapt to the player’s needs or preferences – for example, when a virtual reality game is used in a small physical space -, the Walkin VR “driver” improves this adaptation while also taking into account the player’s physical limitations.

The most complete consumer virtual reality platforms, such as those of Oculus, HTC Vive or PlayStation VR, consist of virtual reality glasses with different movement sensors -to recognize where the user is going and where the user is looking- and with a pair of controllers that are operated with both hands, which introduce the body’s movements into the virtual environment and allow interaction with unreal objects.

The system can also incorporate an external sensor that captures the user’s movements from the outside in a three-dimensional way, with additional precision to the movements recorded by the sensors incorporated in the glasses.

An important aspect of Walkin VR is that it does not require any modifications to existing virtual reality systems, nor does it require any modifications to applications or games.

Instead, the wizard uses various combinations of existing controllers and sensors to introduce into the virtual environment movements that a player cannot perform in the physical world.

In this example video, a user with an immobilized arm can simulate the movements of the second controller (the one he would use with his arm in a sling) by means of movements made with his head; the assistant thus modifies the virtual environment to adapt to the person who is at a disadvantage with the rest of the players, who do not perceive this personalized adaptation.

In this other video, a wheelchair-bound player with limited arm movement can also make use of another game that requires moving and lifting both arms to move through the computer environment, aim and shoot.

In this case, the Walkin VR assistant compensates for this limitation by tracking the movement of the eyes from which to simulate in real time the movement of the arms. Again it is an existing game and without modifying that the “driver” adapts to the physical limitation of that person.

Although Walkin VR can be purchased for about 30 euros still according to Greg is a beta development to which will be added options that expand the possibilities of game and use of virtual reality for people with physical disabilities.

However, they say in Road to VR, solving this problem should not only be the task of a programmer: “developers of virtual reality applications and games should agree on how to make VR games and applications as inclusive as possible to all types of players.

Virtual Reality for Medical and Healthcare Environments

Virtual reality and the glasses that support this technology will be a trend this year and will continue to consolidate over the next few years.

Before we begin, it is important to differentiate between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). AR incorporates layers of digital information in the form of images, holograms, or text into our field of vision in front of us.

This does not happen with VR, which completely abstracts us from reality, taking us to other worlds or situations, this experience can be reinforced by adding sounds or physical platforms where we can move.

Medical possibilities

Analyzing the market, technologies and professionals, we realize that the potential is enormous for medicine and education of health professionals. Some of the medical implications of 360ยบ virtual reality would be.