Authors: Alin Moldoveanu, Bogdan Taloi, Oana Bălan, Iulia Stănică, Daniel Flamaropol, Maria-Iuliana Dascălu, Florica Moldoveanu, Irina Mocanu
in: International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, 2017
Abstract: This paper explores the use of virtual environments for the purpose of training visually impaired individuals in the use of the Sound of Vision sensory substitution solution. Sound of Vision is a wearable device which scans the environment using various cameras and converts the extracted information into audio and haptic stimuli. Proficiency with this advanced sensory substitution solution comes through training. Part of the Sound of Vision training strategy is based on a set of gamified virtual environments, as a safe, cost-effective, motivating and efficient tool. Most serious games are specifically designed for training or educating users, rather than entertainment, and in most cases, users play them out of necessity to gain a practical skill set – which is also the case for our visually impaired users. However, practice has proven that a serious game’s success is highly dependent upon creating game specific entertainment and even fun, immersion and motivation for the user. Serious games’ effectiveness comes from many related factors, such as sense of presence, mental and emotional involvement, motivation, sense and flow, achievement, challenge, as well as the player’s feeling of uniqueness and individualization in the environment. Sound of Vision virtual training was designed based on this perspective. It includes a set of realistic environments that expose the user to daily tasks, a fantasy environment which expose to similar tasks but in with a fantasy storyline, and a large number of mini-games, each focused on developing a specific skill. This paper focuses on these mini-games contained in the Sound of Vision Virtual Training Environments, the skills they teach the user and the ways they contribute to the serious game by providing engagement, entertainment and challenge. Each mini-game provides an environment which favours various essential skills such as navigating a 3D environment, detecting an object’s location or differentiating between two or more sources of information. The mini-games provide a method of training that is versatile and complementary to the realistic and fantasy worlds, as one can start or quit a mini-game at any time without consideration for the encompassing narrative and focus only on the specific skills trained by that mini-game.
Article accessible here.