Disabled users can play SteamVR games using a new tool that offers four types of assistance.
Over the past few years, Grzegorz Bendarski has been hard at work on WalkinVR, a unique software program designed to help make VR games more accessible to those with physical disabilities by allowing them to adjust the orientation, position, and motion range of their motion controllers to address their specific needs.
The software has been available in beta version since 2017, but it will officially be available for download on the Steam store beginning June 29th.
During WalkinVR’s beta phase, Bendarski worked directly alongside individuals with various disabilities in order to fine tune the software, including amputees as well as those suffering from paralysis and cerebral palsy. He studied how each player interacted with their virtual environment in order to identify where their respective conditions came into play the most. Each disability needed a different solution, and even people with the same disability found that they needed a slightly different approach from one another.
In the end, Bendarski realized the tool needed to be customizable depending on the individual.
WalkinVR brings four areas of assistance into VR, with each area having the ability to be customized depending on the user.
- Movement and Rotation – Dominant hand is used to pick up objects while your other hand controls your body. Raise your controller to stand up, lower it to duck, and shake it left or right to move.
- Assisted Gameplay – For those unable to trigger certain button on their motion controllers, Assisted Gameplay allows someone to assist by pushing them for you via a separate Bluetooth controller.
- Adaption of Controller Position and Range – This allows you to adjust the sensitivity of your controllers, thereby turning slight physical movements into large movements in VR. This can prove extremely helpful for individuals whose disabilities may limit their physical movements.
- Controllers and Spastic Hands – This uses a device like Microsoft’s Kinect to track hand motions in the physical world and bring those motions into VR games such as Beat Saber and Audio Trip.
After working with several different players of varying disabilities, Bendarski found that WalkinVR had effectively increased the accessibility of many games and experiences, such as Beat Saber and various first-person shooters.
You can see more of Bendarski’s work on the WalkinVR YouTube page.
In a 2017 interview with VRFocus, Bendarski said “WalkinVR aims at giving users with physical disabilities the freedom of unlimited movement in virtual reality. The Driver enables them to rotate and move around a virtual environment without the need of lower body motion using any VR Config in SteamVR environment.”
WalkinVR launches June 29th on Oculus Rift/Rfit S, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality with both free and premium versions available. According to Bendarski, the software is compatible with most VR games and applications available on SteamVR.
Image Credit: 2MW