VR, for the amazing all-inclusive technology it is, has received particular adulation from the differently abled. It has literally removed their physical obstacles and hindrance to travel and know the world, giving a huge boost to their morale. However, there are still many things that make them ‘realise’ of their ‘incapability’ to do somethings in the virtual space.
With an aim to overcome such stumbling blocs, VR developer Grzegorz Bednarski is coming up with WalkingVR for SteamVR. It is still in beta testing phase and is scheduled for an initial release at the end of May.
The existing artificial locomotion techniques, like the widely-adopted teleport, or the traditional ‘left stick’ style of VR movement, are effective at enhancing standard VR movement, but they fail to adequately meet the needs of disabled people. For instance, for someone in a wheelchair, it is difficult to pick things from floor or higher shelves.
Developer Grzegorz Bednarski has come up with a solution that moves the entire tracked virtual space relative to the player. WalkingVR has play space sliders which are operated with a dedicated button. This is demonstrated with a combination of motion inputs, but it is also possible to map rotation input to external keys or pedals.
In the video, VR games Holopoint and Job Simulator are played from a wheelchair position.
Holopoint is an action-packed archery game where enemies attack from all sides, and players are required to physically dodge projectiles. Bednarski demonstrates both dodging and turning using motion controller inputs.
Job Simulator is less action-orientated, but you are expected to be able to reach well below and above a normal seated position to pick up objects. Again Bednarski is able to achieve this with the WalkinVR driver, while staying in a static seated position, just by moving his arms.
It is laudable making VR friendly to differently-abled’s needs and requirements. Hope more developers follow suit and create VR space as inclusive as possible.