What is i-Drive VR?
The i-Drive VR is a power wheelchair driving simulator that uses virtual reality as an assessment and training tool. VR introduces a more realistic and real time experience than Loonz, while still allowing users to gain practical experience in a safe and fun way. I-Drive Vr provides a realistic three dimensional immersive and interactive environment to allow users of alternative driver control to learn and practice driving skiills in a safe and fun environment. It provides a wonderful opportunity to get the drive controls and other products in front of the end user earlier in the process. This can be used outside of the power wheelchair system in manual chairs or in activity chairs. It is ideal for customers who need more practice with their driver control.
In keeping with the vision established by i-Drive Loonz, i-Drive VR provides a fun and interactive way to help assess and train power wheelchair driving candidates. In building upon the ideas behind the Loonz, VR takes driver training and assessments to the next level. The user’s body will be tricked into feeling the sensation of motion, even while sitting still.
In designing a VR system Stealth wanted to ensure that there is clinical evidence that it benefits an end user. Research does indicate that there are benefits to including VR in the assessment and training process. In one study, it was concluded that power wheelchair performance in the virtual environment was representative of driving ability in the real environment.
VR has been shown to potentially improve the assessment process in a number of ways. Time management is improved by allowing a user to practice skills in a controlled environment, minimizing the need for an assessor to be present 100% of the time. VR can also provide documented results of the assessment, further reducing the need for an assessor to be present 100%of the time. Simply start the VR trial and let the user go through on their own. This VR is designed to be experienced in a seated, stationary position making the environment very controlled and safe. In theory a user could practice on a VR system as long as needed. They do not have to stop because the therapist is late for the next appointment. The system could be set up in their hospital room!
How does VR fit into a typical assessment? VR helps to address a couple of major challenges in many assessments. Having equipment that the end user fits into is always a challenge. VR allows the clinical team to try and train on various drive controls in their existing equipment. The VR system is also much more compact and easier to house. It does not require a PWC to be used either, further increasing these factors. And last, in many cases the assessment ends up outdoors and weather can cause a host of problems. VR is stationary, thus eliminating that barrier.
While traditional training methods are still recommended, VR has been shown to improve outcomes when used as a compliment to those. Going back to space and environmental challenges in the training phases, VR requires very little space and the user is stationary eliminating risks. VR does not necessarily require skilled administrators such as a therapist. While a clinician is treating other patients, the user can continue building their skills on their own or with some assistance by virtually anyone.
This VR system will allow the user to be introduced to various driver controls and virtual environments that increase in complexity over time. To keep the experience as true to reality as possible a true 3d example of a Quantum chair is used. VR does not replace real experience in a real power chair. The clients should still demonstrate and practice skills in the PWC. VR can however, allow the user to continue practicing with the driver control to build controlled repeatability and reliability of various access sites and driver controls.
The i-Drive VR system uses a modified i-Drive interface. Using a standard interface leaves potential for a user to accidentally drive a chair while VR goggles cover their eyes and that cannot be allowed. Stealth can provide a PC that has been optimized for VR as standard computers simply don’t have the graphic horsepower to handle VR. A VR headset will be required as well.
Moving onto the levels themselves, there are 3 main environments: a gym, an outdoors area and a home environment. The levels have been designed after several power wheelchair skills tests. Level 1 is a gymnasium. It offers an open environment with basic obstacles and has five stages. This first stage is intended to get the driver used to VR and to dial in the driver control method. Each subsequent stage works on a different basic driving technique. Level 2 is an realistic outdoor forest environment and it offers terrain changes and distractions. It offers increased difficulty in obstacles over 5 stages. Level 3 is inside a home. It has more challenging tasks and distractions in its four stages. As the stages progress, the driver must use all of their acquired skills to get through the home safely. The driver must demonstrate the ability to maneuver through obstacles, open and closed doorways, as well as pull up to a table.
As the experience is updated and continues to grow, more and more of these skills test elements and objectives will be added. Many of the objectives and elements are written into the plan for the levels and stages but have not been implemented as of yet. In the future Stealth would like to introduce more environments such as an urban area with sidewalks and street crossings, maybe a level that involves getting in and out of a lift van, a school bus and various different public transportation modes.
Much like the Loonz packages, Stealth has developed several VR packages for different needs. VR basic is a PC and Headset that will work for anyone who already may own an assessment interface. The joystick package is everything it takes to use VR with a joystick. The proximity package is everything it takes to use VR with switches and sensors. And the VR complete package is a little of everything; Various driver controls, mounts and inputs for i-Drive as well as a complete system.
To hear more about what people are saying about the i-Drive VR, check out these videos!