Presenter: George Takahashi
Title/Affiliation: Graduate Student, Purdue University
Navigation in virtual environments commonly leverage the usage of devices that abstract physical locomotion, usually in the form of a joystick or button press. In contrast, physical locomotion requires space for movement and can often pose troubles for individuals adjusting to a visual impairment. Outdoor navigation through the use of mobile technologies provides a coarse idea of direction, distance and even points of interest, yet indoor navigation can become inaccurate or non-functioning. Through the use of a mobile device and a depth sensor, indoor navigation and obstacle avoidance can be enhanced. By using a Google Tango, we were able to generate an environment sonification of 3D space, as well as mimic it’s functionality within a Virtual Reality application by leveraging the omnidirectional walking platform Virtuix Omni. With the latest leap in consumer Virtual Reality equipment and driving interest of locomotion in virtual spaces, we explored the technology from the perspective of a visually impaired individual and duplicated an accessible navigation device within a virtual space. When the level of visual impairment stretches to further limited visibility, tunnel vision or even complete blindness, the effectiveness of conveying the virtual environment relies on the other senses and has an impact on the sense of presence. As the popularity of virtual environments (VE) surge and the capabilities of VR technologies expand, it is important to consider the potential for rehabilitation, training, or even just accessibility within this medium.