VR Power Wheelchair Training Simulator
MXT and WSU Collaborate to Develop Virtual Reality Power Wheelchair Training Simulator
[Seattle, WA - Feb 2023]
Mxtreality, a leading virtual reality (VR) technology company, and Washington State University (WSU) have joined forces to create a cutting-edge VR training simulator for power wheelchair users. This state-of-the-art simulator is designed to provide a safe and immersive environment for individuals to develop the skills necessary to operate a power wheelchair.
The AWE (Accessible Wheelchair Experience) is a virtual reality power wheelchair training simulator that allows users to learn how to control a power wheelchair from anywhere. Users can learn everything from the basic maneuvers to more advanced techniques that will allow users to have more knowledge, control, and confidence to drive anywhere they choose, both virtually and in the real world.
One of the advantages of this training simulator is that it can be customized to meet the needs of each individual user. This means that the user can use any movement device they would prefer or would like to try. These include joysticks, sip and puff, head array, and more. In addition, the simulator is equipped with real-time feedback and performance metrics, allowing users to track their progress and adjust their training accordingly.
The software solution works on 2D monitors, yet is best suited for virtual reality, which allows the user to don a VR headset and explore everything around them including observing objects they may bang in to, and better understand slopes, banks, doorways and other obstacles that are difficult to percieve with 2D screens.
"We are excited about the potential of this VR training simulator to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities" said Theresa A Whitlock-Wild, the Project Manager who oversees the Adaptive Technology Center at WSU's Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience. "Our collaboration with Mxtreality is a great example of how technology can be used to solve real-world problems and make a positive impact on society."
The VR training simulator is also an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to traditional training methods. It eliminates the need for physical training spaces, such as large indoor areas or outdoor spaces, which can be expensive and difficult to access. Additionally, the simulator reduces the amount of wear and tear on actual power wheelchairs, saving users money in maintenance and repair costs.
The training simulator starts by teaching the basics of moving, then advances through 4 levels of increasing complexity. The final level involves a self-assessment permitting users, practitioners, and family members to gain confidence in the chair and the user's abilities. While designed for power wheelchair users, the software experience is also a great empathy emulator allowing other family members to learn the nuances both of controlling the chair, and what it's like to navigate from a seated perspective.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with WSU to create this innovative VR training simulator" said Jeff Rayner, CEO of Mxtreality. "Our goal is to empower individuals with disabilities and provide them with the tools they need to lead independent and fulfilling lives. This simulator is a major step in that direction, and we are excited to see the positive impact it will have on users."
The virtual reality power wheelchair training simulator is currently in development and is expected to be available for use in the near future in the Steve Gleason Institute at WSU.
For more information on the virtual reality project, please