VR Application – Walk-through Scenes & Beginnings of UI

Using the example of VirtuCare’s VR scenery, having sets of walk-through scenes would be a good thing for treating dementia (by allowing patients to relax and connect the virtual world with past experiences) and anxiety (by allowing the patient to focus on something else and forget the real world for a time). 

Forest background source: http://wallpapersafari.com/w/pBoWvJ/

The Vive’s refresh rate is 90Hz, so this means ideally, we’ll need 60 – 90FPS to keep the user from feeling motion sick due to screen flickering or visual lag. As they’ll be completely immersed in the environment, any lag will start to cause motion sickness or dizziness – both would be highly unpleasant and would turn off any patients using the program for therapy.

In the above graphic, you can see the Vive controllers. This is to make it easy for the users to tell what they’re doing instead of confusing them with hands that don’t completely accurately mimic their own. As they may require stabilisation/sensitivity changes to adapt to their conditions, these allow the user to see exactly where their hands are moving instead of making them guess. It should also help them keep one foot firmly in reality.

You can see at the top that there are three indicators for options – if the user presses either certain keys or points the red indicator at those, then it will bring up the options menu, home screen or send them to the next scene. If they’re having issues with the usual controller and thus have to use the keyboard or a gamepad controller, the bar at the top allows them to navigate and is very unobtrusive.

Here’s an example of what the Options UI could look like. The light blue background would be whatever they were doing before pressing the Options button: for instance, it could show the previous forest scene. It should have a few extra options in addition to these, namely transparency of menus, language and the like – the image is simply to illustrate it. Each option is either a checkbox or can be navigated via drag or arrowkeys. The Vive’s controllers have a disc that can function both as a touchpad and as arrowkeys – these can be used for this purpose.

The options listed are mainly for accessibility. Sensitivity and stabilisation are two major ones: sensitivity is about modulating input, whilst stabilising will actively try to correct the balance. Both may be needed due to the older patients or any possible mobility issues. Another option that should be added would be ‘handedness’ – switching controls based on whether the user is left or right handed.

Volume control is obviously needed as a general option – some users need it louder, and some quieter. Those who are undergoing therapy in a public space may want the volume louder to drown it out, or may need it quieter at home to listen to people talk. Subtitles are also there for any who are hearing impaired. The font will also assist in accessibility, as certain fonts are easier to read: someone who’s dyslexic may have issues with Calibri and may need a special font formatted for dyslexia, for instance.

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