VR & AR Technology to Help Vision Impaired
You don’t need perfect vision for virtual reality technology, however it helps. Otherwise, you’re going to have issues with accommodating glasses, ocular distances maxing out, eye tracking not working, to name just a few. Researchers from Stanford want to simplify things for people with vision problems while using VR. Common conditions like farsightedness and nearsightedness affect millions of people. Combined with how VR presents depth of field and other effects, this leads to optical troubles and inconsistencies that can cause headaches and nausea.
VR headsets often allow for adjusting things like the distance from your eye to the screen and how far apart your eyes are. However, for many, it’s not enough. Stanford’s Gordon Wetzstein said, “Every person needs a different optical mode to get the best possible experience in VR.” His team’s research describes a set of mechanisms that together comprise what they call an adaptive focus display. One idea uses a liquid lens, the shape of which can be adjusted for certain circumstances; like when the focus of the game is on an object that the viewer normally would not be able to focus on. The screen itself could also be moved in order to better fit the optical requirements of someone with a given affliction.
Wetzstein stated, “The technology we propose is perfectly compatible with existing head mounted displays. However, one also needs eye tracking for this to work properly. Eye tracking is a technology that everyone in the industry is working on and we expect eye trackers to be part of the next wave of [head-mounted displays]. Thus, our gaze-contingent focus displays would be directly compatible with those.” In the paper, both commercial and built-from-scratch headsets are used to prototype various methods of adjusting optical qualities of the displays. The team tested these with 173 participants at last year’s SIGGRAPH conference. The news release reports an “improved viewing experiences across a wide range of vision characteristics.”