• A Cost-Effective Virtual Environment for Simulating and Training Powered Wheelchairs Manoeuvres

      Headleand, Christopher J.; Day, Thomas W.; Pop, Serban R.; Ritsos, Panagiotis D.; John, Nigel W.; Bangor University and University of Chester (IOS Press, 2016-04-07)
      Control of a powered wheelchair is often not intuitive, making training of new users a challenging and sometimes hazardous task. Collisions, due to a lack of experience can result in injury for the user and other individuals. By conducting training activities in virtual reality (VR), we can potentially improve driving skills whilst avoiding the risks inherent to the real world. However, until recently VR technology has been expensive and limited the commercial feasibility of a general training solution.We describe Wheelchair-Rift, a cost effective prototype simulator that makes use of the Oculus Rift head mounted display and the Leap Motion hand tracking device. It has been assessed for face validity by a panel of experts from a local Posture and Mobility Service. Initial results augur well for our cost-effective training solution.
    • An Endoscope Interface for Immersive Virtual Reality

      John, Nigel W.; Day, Thomas W.; Wardle, Terrence; University of Chester
      This is a work in progress paper that describes a novel endoscope interface designed for use in an immersive virtual reality surgical simulator. We use an affordable off the shelf head mounted display to recreate the operating theatre environment. A hand held controller has been adapted so that it feels like the trainee is holding an endoscope controller with the same functionality. The simulator allows the endoscope shaft to be inserted into a virtual patient and pushed forward to a target position. The paper describes how we have built this surgical simulator with the intention of carrying out a full clinical study in the near future.
    • The Implementation and Validation of a Virtual Environment for Training Powered Wheelchair Manoeuvres

      John, Nigel W.; Pop, Serban R.; Day, Thomas W.; Ritsos, Panagiotis D.; Headleand, Christopher J.; University of Chester; Bangor University; University of Lincoln (IEEE, 2017-05-02)
      Navigating a powered wheelchair and avoiding collisions is often a daunting task for new wheelchair users. It takes time and practice to gain the coordination needed to become a competent driver and this can be even more of a challenge for someone with a disability. We present a cost-effective virtual reality (VR) application that takes advantage of consumer level VR hardware. The system can be easily deployed in an assessment centre or for home use, and does not depend on a specialized high-end virtual environment such as a Powerwall or CAVE. This paper reviews previous work that has used virtual environments technology for training tasks, particularly wheelchair simulation. We then describe the implementation of our own system and the first validation study carried out using thirty three able bodied volunteers. The study results indicate that at a significance level of 5% then there is an improvement in driving skills from the use of our VR system. We thus have the potential to develop the competency of a wheelchair user whilst avoiding the risks inherent to training in the real world. However, the occurrence of cybersickness is a particular problem in this application that will need to be addressed.
    • Recent Developments and Future Challenges in Medical Mixed Reality

      Chen, Long; Day, Thomas W.; Tang, Wen; John, Nigel W.; Bournemouth University and University of Chester (2017-11-23)
      Mixed Reality (MR) is of increasing interest within technology driven modern medicine but is not yet used in everyday practice. This situation is changing rapidly, however, and this paper explores the emergence of MR technology and the importance of its utility within medical applications. A classification of medical MR has been obtained by applying an unbiased text mining method to a database of 1,403 relevant research papers published over the last two decades. The classification results reveal a taxonomy for the development of medical MR research during this period as well as suggesting future trends. We then use the classification to analyse the technology and applications developed in the last five years. Our objective is to aid researchers to focus on the areas where technology advancements in medical MR are most needed, as well as providing medical practitioners with a useful source of reference.
    • Training Powered Wheelchair Manoeuvres in Mixed Reality

      Day, Thomas W.; John, Nigel W.; University of Chester (IEEE Xplore, 2019-09)
      We describe a mixed reality environment that has been designed as an aid for training driving skills for a powered wheelchair. Our motivation is to provide an improvement on a previous virtual reality wheelchair driving simulator, with a particular aim to remove any cybersickness effects. The results of a validation test are presented that involved 35 able bodied volunteers divided into three groups: mixed reality trained, virtual reality trained, and a control group. No significant differences in improvement was found between the groups but there is a notable trend that both the mixed reality and virtual reality groups improved more than the control group. Whereas the virtual reality group experienced discomfort (as measured using a simulator sickness questionnaire), the mixed reality group experienced no side effects.
    • Using Virtual Reality to Experience Different Powered Wheelchair Configurations

      Day, Thomas W.; Headleand, Christopher J.; Pop, Serban R.; John, Nigel W.; Dobson, William; University of Chester, University of Lincoln (2017-09-31)
      This paper presents recent additions to our Wheelchair-VR application, in particular the use of different drive configurations. We have previously shown that Wheelchair-VR can be used to improve driving skills. Here we consider the utility of the application in allowing users who are in the process of purchasing or upgrading a wheelchair to experience different configurations and options in a cost-effective virtual environment. A preliminary study is presented, which suggests that this approach can be effective.
    • Virtual Reality Environment for the Cognitive Rehabilitation of Stroke Patients

      John, Nigel W.; Day, Thomas W.; Pop, Serban R.; Chatterjee, Kausik; Cottrell, Katy; Buchanan, Alastair; Roberts, Jonathan; University of Chester; Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Cadscan Ltd (IEEE, 2019-10-14)
      We present ongoing work to develop a virtual reality environment for the cognitive rehabilitation of patients as a part of their recovery from a stroke. A stroke causes damage to the brain and problem solving, memory and task sequencing are commonly affected. The brain can recover to some extent, however, and stroke patients have to relearn to carry out activities of daily learning. We have created an application called VIRTUE to enable such activities to be practiced using immersive virtual reality. Gamification techniques enhance the motivation of patients such as by making the level of difficulty of a task increase over time. The design and implementation of VIRTUE is presented together with the results of a small acceptability study.
    • Wheelchair-MR: A Mixed Reality Wheelchair Training Environment

      Day, Thomas W.; University of Chester (IEEE, 2017-09-20)
      In previous work we have demonstrated that Virtual Reality can be used to help train driving skills for users of a powered wheelchair. However, cybersickness was a particular problem. This work-in-progress paper presents a Mixed Reality alternative to our wheelchair training software, which overcomes this problem. The design and implementation of this application is discussed. Early results shows some promise and overcomes the cybersickness issue. More work is needed before a larger scale study can be undertaken.