Virtual Simulation of Wheelchair Performance

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Jun 10, 1994) — 

Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) Research Scientist Don Stredney and J. Edward Swan III of The Ohio State University (OSU) Advanced Computing Center for Art and Design (ACCAD) were selected to present "The Determination of Wheelchair User Proficiency and Environmental Accessibility Through Virtual Simulation" at the Virtual Reality And Persons With Disabilities conference in San Francisco, California, June 8-10, 1994, sponsored by IEEE and California State University Northridge (CSUN) Center on Disabilities.

Representing the project team, Swan described a system that allows power wheelchair users to drive through simulated architectural environments. This activity at OSC and ACCAD, supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education-National Institute for Disability Research and Rehabilitation, is entering its second year.

The OSU Rehabilitation Engineering Center, OSU Department of Orthopedic Surgery, OSU Gait Analysis Laboratory, ACCAD, and OSC have partnered in a "Virtual Wheelchair Project" with the objective to design and develop a virtual architectural navigation system controlled by a power-driven wheelchair.

According to Stredney, the system provides a virtual system for three main communities -- architects and designers, end users, and health care providers. Design professionals test architectural and environmental designs for ADA compliance; persons with disabilities use it as a training simulator for using a power chair and related interfaces; and health care providers assess user proficiency and the efficacy of the prescribed interface.

The Ohio Supercomputer Center is a state-funded shared resource of high performance computing for Ohio's researchers, both academic and industrial.