Prime-VR2 is a 3-year EU H2020-fun­ded pro­ject aimed at the devel­op­ment of access­ible VR soft­ware and hard­ware con­trol­lers to facil­it­ate access and devel­op rehab­i­li­ti­ation envir­on­ments for vari­ous types of move­ment dis­order.  A spe­cif­ic goal is to devel­op a plat­form for VR games sup­port­ing tar­geted ther­apies for people with neur­omo­tor dis­ab­il­it­ies.

UCL’s roles in the pro­ject are in the devel­op­ment of soft­ware inter­faces for the VR plat­form and in assess­ment and eval­u­ation through user stud­ies. Cur­rently we are devel­op­ing user inter­face tests that rep­res­ent key com­mon tasks in VR, and are involved in the assess­ment of hard­ware inter­faces on such tasks.

Co-piloting VR-Applications

One issue that seated VR-play­ers struggle with is that sit­ting down lim­its game­play. This is simply because it deprives them of spe­cif­ic pos­i­tion­al inputs. The move­ment in the xz-plane and along the y-axis in par­tic­u­lar. This makes it dif­fi­cult or impossible to use many vir­tu­al real­ity applic­a­tions.

One soft­ware inter­face that we are invest­ig­at­ing as a pos­sible solu­tion to this is co-pilot­ing. It is not a nov­el concept but mostly known from reg­u­lar video games. With co-pilot­ing, a second play­er takes over con­trols that the first play­er can­not do. In our case, these are the pos­i­tion­al con­trols.

In this pic­ture, the second play­er has the move­ment con­trols mapped to a Gamepad so they can assist the play­er in VR

Image showing two people playing a VR game together with one sitting down and the other standing at a desk.

To enable the user to adapt the exper­i­ence to their indi­vidu­al needs, we do not spe­cify any par­tic­u­lar input device or input map­ping. Instead, we are util­ising the input bind­ing sys­tem that Steam­VR offers for all VR games. This means that any con­trol­ler that Steam­VR recog­nises can be used by cre­at­ing a bind­ing for it. Cus­tom devices are usable in the same way, as soon as a Steam­VR driver is writ­ten for them. Options that we have suc­cess­fully tried ourselves include Xbox gamepads, Microsoft’s Xbox Adapt­ive Con­trol­ler, and estab­lished VR con­trol­lers like the Oculus Touch Con­trol­ler).

Due to the pos­sib­il­ity to freely choose and con­fig­ure the second input device, Copi­lotVR can not only be used for two play­ers to play as one but also for the seated play­er to assist them­selves by means of input that are suited to their indi­vidu­al needs.

Because our imple­ment­a­tion is manip­u­lat­ing the input at the level of the SteamVR/OpenVR Frame­work, Copi­lotVR can be used with any vir­tu­al real­ity applic­a­tion that is util­ising this frame­work.

An open-source imple­ment­a­tion of Copi­lotVR can be found on Git­Hub.
We invite any­one inter­ested to try it them­selves and con­trib­ute to the pro­ject.