• 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.
    • 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.
    • Sketching Designs Using the Five Design-Sheet Methodology

      Roberts, Jonathan C.; Headleand, Christopher J.; Ritsos, Panagiotis D.; University of Bangor, University of Bangor, University of Chester (IEEE, 2015-08-12)
      Sketching designs has been shown to be a useful way of planning and considering alternative solutions. The use of lo-fidelity prototyping, especially paper-based sketching, can save time, money and converge to better solutions more quickly. However, this design process is often viewed to be too informal. Consequently users do not know how to manage their thoughts and ideas (to first think divergently, to then finally converge on a suitable solution). We present the Five Design Sheet (FdS) methodology. The methodology enables users to create information visualization interfaces through lo-fidelity methods. Users sketch and plan their ideas, helping them express different possibilities, think through these ideas to consider their potential effectiveness as solutions to the task (sheet 1); they create three principle designs (sheets 2,3 and 4); before converging on a final realization design that can then be implemented (sheet 5). In this article, we present (i) a review of the use of sketching as a planning method for visualization and the benefits of sketching, (ii) a detailed description of the Five Design Sheet (FdS) methodology, and (iii) an evaluation of the FdS using the System Usability Scale, along with a case-study of its use in industry and experience of its use in teaching.
    • 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.