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.