We were excited to showcase our new game, WordPlay VR, during last week's GamePipe Showcase at USC. Wordplay VR was developed by students in CSCI 572: Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed reality in collaboration with the Locomotor Control Lab, Prof. Beth Fisher in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, Prof. Marientina Gotsis in the School of Cinematic Arts, and Vangelis Lympouridis, Ph.D. in the Viterbi School of Engineering.
The objective of WordPlay VR is to complete a set of word puzzles by physically moving through a 3D virtual environment, finding the letters needed to solve the puzzle, and placing them in the correct target location. This experience was designed as part of an NIH-funded project whose objective is to use develop a low-cost, interactive training application to improve mobility in people with Parkinson’s disease. Two of the most exciting features of our system is that it can be used in a fully wireless mode and includes a tablet-based interface through which therapists can tailor the features of the training environment to the needs of the patient.
This game is the culmination of a user-centered design process that began with IML 543: Transdisciplinary Media Design Practicum, directed by Prof. Marientina Gotsis, and involved people living with Parkinson’s disease and a number of contributing faculty from Cinematic Arts, the School of Engineering, and the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. We would like to thank the team from CSCI 572, which included Vyas Babu, Rahul Lele, Abhishek Pandy, Arpit Sharma, and Harmeet Singh for all of their hard work and commitment to the project. Music and sound design were done courtesy of Aaron Reihs. We would also like to thank our funding sources; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development under award number R21HD088342, the Bridge Institute Art + Science Alliance, and the USC Undergraduate Research Associates Program. Lastly, we would like to thank the directors of CSCI 572, Prof. Michael Zyda and Vangelis Lympouridis, Ph.D., for supporting our vision and providing a venue through which we could introduce students to health-related applications of VR.
This project is one of many ongoing developments at USC to use virtual and augmented reality for health-related applications. Over the past year, we have been working to build a cohesive community of researchers in this area through the USC SensoriMotor Assessment and Rehabilitation Training in Virtual Reality Center (SMART-VR Center). Our inaugural symposium this fall had over 100 attendees and we expect it to be even larger next year as we expand our network of researchers, developers, and clinicians.