Designers at innovation and design firm, Fjord, have created a VR experience that teaches model new wheelchair users find out how to safely maneuver their surroundings in a secure, empowering method.

The crew at Fjord at all times retains one factor in thoughts whereas engaged on new designs: human affect. The Wheelchair Coaching Program, a VR experience that teaches new wheelchair users find out how to transfer of their surroundings, is the most recent instance of the design firm utilizing modern strategies for good.


The mission was born out of a examine targeted on facilitating empathy by immersive experiences. The crew determined to concentrate on wheelchair accessibility early on within the brainstorming course of after watching Jason DaSilva’s, When I Walk, a documentary that showcases the customarily tough transition to a wheelchair by new users.

The designers logged obstacles, collected knowledge from POV photographs and movies, and studied a number of accessibility maps earlier than honing in on the Wheelchair Coaching Program’s remaining kind.

“We were not focused on a design solution at that point,” stated Fjord Design Technique Lead John Jones. “We were looking for a simple way to navigate the content we were collecting.”

After conducting in depth interviews with wheelchair users to find out the commonest navigational points confronted in the course of the first few days in a wheelchair, the crew started designing the coaching program. The consequence? A two-pronged prototype that mixes a motion-sensor geared up stationary wheelchair with an immersive, virtual city surroundings.

The user sits within the wheelchair, places on a headset, and enters the virtual city panorama, deliberately designed to be “light, bright, and airy” to keep away from gamifying the experience. Because the user navigates the wheelchair by turning and steering the free-moving wheels, the movement sensors ship suggestions to the simulation, updating the VR panorama in actual time. Customers enhance their steering talents and learn to navigate by a sea of pedestrians in a secure, managed surroundings.

Although it’s exhausting to think about the mission with out VR now, it wasn’t the only software that the crew thought-about in the course of the design course of.

“We considered 360 video,” stated Jones. “Ultimately, VR allowed us the flexibility to highlight obstacles, use the wheelchair as a controller and build our own single environment, which included all of the issues we had seen.”

Quite a few healthcare amenities have expressed curiosity within the mission, and Fjord hopes to finally carry it to market.

“We are continuing to move the prototype forward and have spoken to several potential client partners to continue the development with us,” stated Jones.

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