Loom is a two-person interactive VR game that requires players to replicate the pattern of colored blocks in a view wall on a play wall. The game can be played collaboratively, cooperatively, or even single player against the computer. (edited)
Using the headset, a Vive Pro Eye VR, researchers can measure biometric data such as eye movements, hand gestures, head movements. This biometric data is used to help researchers understand the nature of social interaction during game play. One way this can be used is to give scientists a better understanding of how biometric characteristics feed into social communication differences for those on the autism spectrum. In the future, we hope that this type of VR setting can connect participants across the globe, and help people participate despite accessibility challenges
In academia, we recognize that a multiplayer network is an essential next step for cooperative testing. Our goal is to establish a fast network for the Multiplayer VR Community Center to link multiple Vive Pro Eye VR headsets and place players into the same virtual room, regardless of their physical location in the real world. This VR Community Center will also be the central hub that encompasses VR assessment tests and interventions that come out of our lab.
Through our research we hope to understand:
- How their perception-action couples in real-time during this dynamic changing task
- Would our participants make better prediction and adaptation over the practice
- Possible improvement of task performance, retention, and transfer
Ball Throwing Task
Research on motor impairments for individuals with ASD has been growing in recent years. These motor impairments are thought to be caused by difficulties in processing of motion perception in a global environment, which lead to inefficiency in sensorimotor integration and difficulties engaging in dynamic activities in daily life, from catching a ball to driving a car.
We are designing a simple dynamic task with varying visual and spatial complexity on movement in an immersive virtual reality environment, to assess the visual/motor functionality in children with ASD.
User-centered Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device
Communication devices, systems, strategies and tools that replace or support natural speech are known as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).
These tools support a person who has difficulties communicating using speech. There is a diversity in the population who need AAC devices, yet the type of devices that exist are limited in their functionality and design.
The goal of the project is to gather stakeholder feedback to better understand the context, needs, and use cases of non-speaking individuals on the Autism Spectrum Discord and their families in order to create a more encompassing and user-centered AAC device.
We are currently building out the pilot experiment where the participants will be having three, 30 minutes bursts of exercise while learning a second language in an immersive environment using VR. The long-term goal of this project is for the game to be publicly available and accessible to the population.
Research from Chuck Hillman and Art Kramer clearly demonstrated a beneficial influence of physical activity engendered through aerobic exercise on selective aspects of brain function in younger populations.
We would like to shift our attention to the older population and build a game that encourages exercising while learning a second language in order to test whether it has an effect on the user’s language learning ability.
Spot N Sync
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be characterized by multiple characteristics, some of them being different interaction with others, repetitive behaviors, and high sensitivities to stimuli. In 2014, Sinha and the group postulated a new theory called “Predictive Impairment in Autism” theory wherein the group suggested that one of the characteristics of autism might be the manifestations of an impaired/ poor ability to predict events and reactions. Therefore, repetitive behaviors and the want for a highly structured environment might be the coping strategies to deal with a possibly unpredictable world. Currently, there is some evidence supporting this theory but they come with controversies.
We have designed a pilot VR experiment to evaluate the prediction metrics through motor control/movement in order to empirically validate this theory. The use of VR separates the person’s proprioception and vision. Through this, our goal is to characterize a population’s motor preference in goal-oriented motor action or prediction error minimization when faced with a visual and temporal conflict during the task.
Using eye tracking data will help us identify any behavioral and cognitive performance differences between pros and novice players. and even consider using Rocket League to train the spatial awareness skill if there are differences. We are currently building a model that can recognize and track key objects like the ball and players.
Rocket League Eyetracking
We all know that mastering a skill is required for people to play at a professional level, and the competitive e-sports field is no different. Rocket League is a vehicular soccer video game that requires similar, if not the same, prediction and spatial awareness skills needed for a highly complex prediction environment like soccer. Using the eye movement research which suggests that gaze leads a behavior, we will be using an eye tracker to collect gaze data to characterize this skill.
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