How Virtual Reality Can Be More Accessible with WalkinVR

Imagine you’re wearing a virtual reality headset and sitting in a chair or wheelchair. You start playing Job Simulator. In one scene, you need to reach low to open the mini-freezer to take out a burrito. Except, you can’t bend over and reach. Or maybe you can just get to the door handle, but can’t pull it open.

In another scenario, you can’t reach up high. Or maybe you can’t hold the virtual reality controllers or press the buttons.

WalkinVR Driver fills in the gap. It’s a free driver that enhances virtual reality to work with the person’s abilities and preferences. One option is the Xbox Controller Move, which allows you to connect a standard Xbox video game controller to the game.

A second person would use the controller to help the person who is in virtual reality. In this video clip and featured image, Kenji Yanagawa is sitting in a chair wearing the headset and holding the controllers in his hands. Thomas Logan is standing and has the Xbox controller. Thomas can see the scene on a monitor (off-screen) and he pushes the joystick on the controller to move the scene to put the freezer closer. Kenji can now open the freezer without reaching down.

Next, Kenji needs to grab the burritos from inside the freezer. Thomas repositions the screen to bring the burritos closer within reach and Kenji can grab them with little effort.

WalkinVR works in four ways:

  1. Play with another person’s assistance
  2. Allow people with limited motion to move with controllers
  3. Use controllers to move virtually (also called space drag)
  4. Interact by using hands instead of controller

Be aware of the possibility of experiencing motion sickness. When someone else is controlling the movements, the user can experience motion sickness. That’s because the person is not moving, but what they see in their virtual reality headset is moving.

Refer back to the video clip. Kenji sat still while Thomas moved the freezer closer to Kenji. This confuses the vestibular system because it’s seeing movement, but the body isn’t moving. There’s a mismatch.

Not all scenarios with WalkinVR are like this. It’s just something to keep in mind when trying it out. Some apps may not have people moving around, but rather they’re moving other things.

Here are the things you may need to use WalkinVR:

  • Virtual-reality ready PC or laptop with the following specs:
    • GTX 1060 graphics or higher
    • Intel i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500x or higher
    • 8 GB or more of RAM
  • SteamVR app on PC
  • VR headset that works with a PC
  • Kinect 2.0 + Adapter (only for certain scenarios)
  • Xbox Controller (only for certain scenarios)

Extended Reality (XR) Accessibility Help

Our years of experience working with extended reality including augmented and virtual reality, as well as being writers and speakers on the topic, has given us a unique perspective when it comes to consulting on XR projects. If you’d like to innovate in the accessibility of XR please, please contact us to discuss how we can help.

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