Wheelchair Simulator, an experience to help newly disabled people.
By Pierre-Olivier Macé, Communications Manager at iLLOGIKA
Using wheelchairs is not always easy for newly disabled people: they need time to understand and learn how to be confident on how to use them properly for everyday actions, such as crossing the road or grocery shopping… To help with that transition, Dr. Philippe Archambault, researcher at McGill University’s SPOT (School of Physical & Occupational Therapy), has been working on developing wheelchair simulators with his team at the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital. He has also been teaming up for one year with us at iLLOGIKA to develop the manual wheelchair prototype.
Medical research projects are interesting for game studios : according to David Fugère-Lamarre, CEO and co-founder of iLLOGIKA, using game development assets to help people deal with their health problems brings new perspectives to developers. It is not the first time that McGill collaborated with a studio before: previously, the University worked with Ubisoft and the Amblyotech company to make a game to help people diagnosed with amblyopia. To get back to the Wheelchair simulator, the purpose of this collaboration is to help Dr. Archambault’s team bring a gaming approach to their project and breaking that mental barrier people experience when learning how to use a new tool.
Here’s how it works : the wheelchair is placed on a support to stabilize it and connected with an Arduino board in order to convert its movements into digital inputs. A 3D game, running with the Unity engine, reads the inputs, computes them and allows the player to move in the correct direction. The game is composed of six levels, each level focusing on unique everyday goals people in wheelchairs face, for example: using an elevator, getting into a car, crossing the road and shopping groceries. We assigned a programmer and a QA tester to work with the wheelchair mechanical engineers. The levels are designed to be short and intuitive so the players can freely experiment many ways to use the wheelchair.
In the end, Dr. Archambault’s project focuses on how to use technologies to help disabled people and that is why it doesn’t stop here: his team is also experimenting on how VR can be brought to this project. What do you think?
Do you have any insights into how game development can help medical research? Let us know in the comments!
iLLOGIKA would like to thank Dr. Philippe Archambault (from the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy, McGill University) as well as Igor and Sam, the project mechanical engineers for this article.
You can access the Dr. Archambault’s universitary webpage here : https://www.mcgill.ca/spot/philippe-archambault and the project’s twitter account here: https://twitter.com/robotics_rehab