Engineering and Design students make VR hands-on for everybody

Engineering+and+Design+students+make+VR+hands-on+for+everybody

Nathanael Martinez, Reporter

With the advent of virtual reality headsets people are able to experience videogames from a truly first-person view. However, these headsets are not designed with the needs of disabled people in mind. Students in IB Design Tech are working to change that.

“We are trying to make the VR experience more accessible for users that are handicapped,” senior Nick Rice said.

Rice started the project at an internship over the summer, but had to abandon it due to time constraints. When Rice was assigned to create a project based around humans for IB Engineering and Design, he leapt at the chance to continue the project.

“Right now, we are working from the wrist up,” Rice said.

The team is focused on hands because over the summer, a boy in Rice’s VR modification group didn’t have a left hand.

“We were designing for him but also for other people like him,” Rice said. “It’s good to focus on one person so you actually know what you are doing and try to adapt that to different needs.”

One of the prototypes the group created is a harness that attaches to somebody’s arm. This way, even if one doesn’t have hands, they can still operate the controllers.

“Its a sleeve that you put on and slide the controller into,” senior Jason Schindler said. “We have a wire setup, so when you extend your arm it tightens and pulls the trigger”.

However, the team wants to expand its focus.

“Future iterations would be from the elbow up,” Rice said. “Mr.Wierusz said it would be best to just focus on one thing, so we started on the hand.”

The team is excited to see where their project will take them.

“[Weirusz] said ‘keep doing this’,” Rice said. “It is interesting; it could actually be viable.”