Seeing our Blind Spots

Smart Glasses-based Simulation to Increase Design Students’ Awareness of Visual Impairment

As the population ages, many will acquire visual impairments. To improve design for these users, it is essential to build awareness of their perspective during everyday routines, especially for design students. Although several visual impairment simulation toolkits exist in both academia and as commercial products, analog, and static visual impairment simulation tools do not simulate effects concerning the user’s eye movements. Meanwhile, VR and video see-through-based AR simulation methods are constrained by smaller fields of view when compared with the natural human visual field and also suffer from vergence-accommodation conflict (VAC) which correlates with visual fatigue, headache, and dizziness. In this paper, we enable an on-the-go, VAC-free, visually impaired experience by leveraging our optical see-through glasses. The FOV of our glasses is approximately 160 degrees for horizontal and 140 degrees for vertical, and participants can experience both losses of central vision and loss of peripheral vision at different severities. Our evaluation (n =14) indicates that the glasses can significantly and effectively reduce visual acuity and visual field without causing typical motion sickness symptoms such as headaches and or visual fatigue. Questionnaires and qualitative feedback also showed how the glasses helped to increase participants’ awareness of visual impairment.

Paper link here.