Choosing an Appropriate VR Platform: Social VR (Metaverse) for the mobility challenged

As a final exercise in choosing an appropriate VR platform for a target audience, I chose to explore the requirements of a social VR app for use by home bound individuals and the mobility challenged.

VR as a social platform

Persona

Sally

Name: Sally
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Quote: “Since the accident its harder to go out and socialize like I used to.”
What motivates them: Sally really values her current family and friendship group but would really like to expand it. She doesn’t want her disability to affect her social life.

Questions

How accessible would each VR platform be to your target user in terms of price? Take into account location, age, and income.

Mobile VR would be the most accessible at the expense of interaction. While Social VR is mostly conversation, being able to wave your hands and gesture at friends within the metaverse would make the experience more immersive. I would suggest the app be released on both mobile and high end platforms to cater for all budgets.

How interactive does your experience need to be? For example, do I need to pick things up or could I get away with just looking at objects?

It doesn’t have to be interactive, as most of the interaction would be from viewing the users avatar and using audio for voice. Interaction with metaverse objects to play games with friends would be a bonus.

How realistic do your visuals need to be? For example, could I use 2D images and videos in a 3D Environment or do you need high poly 3D models.

Realism and high poly 3D models are not a high priority for curren Social VR. Reaching a larger audience (Mobile VR) is more important than the quality of the visuals.

Does my user need to feel like a participant in the experience or can they be a passive viewer? Could they be both?

They can be both but they will get more out of the experience if they participate and engage with other players in the metaverse.

Given the answers above, what are potential platforms you could use for your experience?

I would say Mobile VR would be the first platform to target to reach as large audience as possible. Interaction and high end graphics are a secondary concern but would add to the experience, so I would add these platforms at a later date. For some users with mobility issues, holding a controller also might be an issue.

How would Augmented Reality better help teach your experience?

Actually this is one medium where AR would not better help with the experience. The attraction of VR in the metaverse is the virtual escape from the confines of their home, so being able to see the real world around them would lessen the experience.

How could eye tracking help you better tailor your experience to your users?

To better guage where someone you are talking to in Social VR is looking, to make it more like a real life conversation.

How would better Haptics better teach your experience?

If interacting with objects. Touching another user would benefit from this but serious guidelines would need to be put in place to allow this via permissions. Touching another person in the virtual world can be just as violating as touching someone in the real world.

How important is graphical fidelity to your experience?

It’s not a driving factor apart from making avatars more realistic and lifelike.

How critical is it that your target user has access to this app within the next two years?

I think social isolation is a real and silent problem in the community. The sooner people have access to social VR the better.