Virtual reality has made a resurgence in the past few years with the release of affordable, consumer-ready devices, such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. These devices allow Virtual Reality to be accessed by a wider range of the population, and used to develop more applications. Augmented and Mixed Reality devices have also come to light recently, with companies like Microsoft releasing the Hololens, the first tetherless Mixed Reality headset.
These technologies have the potential to aid in the rehabilitation of different physical or psychological impairments, i.e. physical disability due to paralysis or stroke.
We developed a low cost, virtual reality wheelchair simulator, “Wheelchair-VR”, that uses the Oculus Rift and the Unity games engine to create a series of challenges that help to teach the basic skills needed to control a wheelchair. These skills include navigating hallways, doors, moving obstacles, ramps, etc. The conversion of Wheelchair-VR into a Mixed Reality version is currently underway using the Hololens and it’s ability to understand the world around it.
Thomas graduated from Bangor University in North Wales in July 2015 with a 1st class honours degree in Computer Science, where he also worked as an intern for the Advanced Medical Imaging and Visualization Unit.
His research interests include Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities. He is currently studying an MPhil in the department of Computer Science.