The “Social Virtual Reality” project is concerned with increasing accessibility in VR for people with disabilities, senior citizens, or those impaired by illness. In particular, the group looks at social VR apps such as VRChat, Rec Room, or Horizon Worlds.
Social VR can improve quality of life
“The buzzing world of SVR has the potential to open up a wide array of opportunities for disabled and older people to engage with life and improve its quality,” explains project leader Dr. Vanja Garaj.
The Brunel Design School research director sees great potential in social VR apps. In addition to simple entertainment, for example, social VR combats loneliness. Improving employment prospects for people with disabilities through VR training or VR online education is also possible, she says.
A framework for an inclusive metaverse
The research team aims to develop a “Social Virtual Reality Inclusion Framework” within the next three years. This will include tools and guidance on how to make the metaverse more accessible for elders, people with vision or hearing loss, dexterity or mobility issues, mental illness, cognitive impairments, or learning disabilities.
One such approach is already offered by the VR app WalkinVR, which makes current VR hits such as Beat Saber or Job Simulator accessible to people with physical disabilities. The VR fitness app FitXR also focuses on inclusion, offering workouts for people with mobility impairments, for example.