XREye: Simulating Vision Impairments in Extended Reality

Banner with people wearing VR Hedadsets
Subject: XREye: Simulating Vision Impairments in Extended Reality
Abstract: Around the world, 2.2 billion people have a visual impairment or eye-related diseases. Due to our aging society, age-related visual impairments are also rapidly increasing and are becoming a fundamental topic for urban and interior planning, as well as architecture. Therefore, the research project “XREye” is dedicated to working together with ophthalmologists and patients to simulate visual impairments such as macular degeneration or cataracts as realistically as possible in virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR).
Making the world perceptible through a VR headset from the point of view of visually impaired people is crucial for developing a better understanding of how people with impaired vision perceive public spaces – especially signs, guidance systems, or escape routes. Research conducted in this project has already shown that regulations and standardization in lighting and guidance systems often do not pay sufficient attention to visual impairments. Simulating different visual impairments in VR and AR creates a decisive awareness of this and supports lighting designers and architects to design the lighting and signage of public spaces in an inclusive and barrier-free way. Visual impairments are simulated graphically when looking through VR glasses, to let people with healthy eyesight experience the world around them like a person with limited or poor vision. This for example allows testing how distances, font sizes, and lighting intensity are perceived in cases of classic age-related visual impairment.
XREye is a multi-disciplinary project between researchers from VRVis, TU Wien, the Medical University of Vienna, and Columbia University, and will be presented by project lead Dr. Katharina Krösl.
Speaker: Dr. Katharina Krösl, kroesl@vrvis.at
Organisation: VRVis Zentrum fuer Virtual Reality und Visualisierung Forschungs-GmbH, Austria
Short biography of speaker: Dr. Katharina Krösl is a senior researcher at VRVis Zentrum für Virtual Reality und Visualisierung Forschungs-GmbH with several years of work and teaching experience as research/university assistant at TU Wien and freelance VR game developer. In 2020, she completed her PhD in computer science at TU Wien with distinction. Her current research interests include virtual and augmented reality, and its applications in interdisciplinary projects on perception, psychology, and medical simulations. The main goal of her research work on simulating vision impairments in VR and AR is to have a positive social impact on our society by increasing the understanding for people with vision impairments and providing tools for architects and designers to increase the accessibility of their designs. Her work has been awarded by the scientific community and was featured in the media several times. She has also worked in an honorary capacity as an expert in a committee at Austrian Standards for three years, which resulted in a new standard on visual guidance systems that also takes people with low vision into account, making signage more accessible for everyone. Katharina is a founding member and officer of IEEE Women in Engineering Austria. She mentors young female visual computing students, organizes networking events for women in computer science, and does voluntary work for scientific conferences.

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