WHEELCHAIR TRAINING IN VR
A VR experience: Teaching new wheelchair users how to move in their environment.
THIS ONE IS MY THESIS PROJECT FOR THE MFA DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY AT PARSONS IN NYC. IT’S A RESULT OF A COLLABORATION BETWEEN PARSONS AND FJORD. I CAME UP WITH THE CONCEPT AND DID THE DESIGN BUT MANY TALENTED PEOPLE CONTRIBUTED TO THIS PROJECT FROM STUDY, TO SERVICE, TO PROTOTYPE.
I conducted extensive interviews with wheelchair users. Certain patterns and common problems emerged throughout our discussions: stories about disastrous first days in wheelchairs, the challenges of understanding a new complex environment, navigating areas where pedestrians don’t understand the needs of wheelchair users, difficulties developing an understanding for angles of concrete, height of curbs, etc.
So I began designing the training program. The result? A two-pronged prototype that combines a motion-sensor equipped stationary wheelchair with an immersive, virtual urban environment. The user sits in the wheelchair, puts on a headset, and enters the virtual urban landscape. As the user navigates the wheelchair by turning and steering, the motion sensors send feedback to the simulation, updating the VR landscape in real time.
A number of healthcare facilities have expressed interest in the project. Fjord hopes to eventually bring it to market.
VARIOUS COMPONENTS OF THE PROJECT
We managed the project for the prototype in three main sections: the user interface, visual simulation and physical simulation.