Virtual Exercise Architecture for People with Lower Body Disabilities Using Virtual Reality Technologies
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This doctoral dissertation presents the research and design of the Remote Exercise and Game Architecture Language (REGAL), which was developed in the Industrial Virtual Reality Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Long-term wheelchair users have inactive lifestyle and resultant poor health condition. To promote their lifestyle, regular exercise regimen is needed. Currently, most outdoor exercises are either unavailable or unsafe for ordinary wheelchair users, while indoor exercise is too boring to adhere to. REGAL is an architecture to provide them with a safe, interactive, engaging and fully accessible indoor exercise environment with properly designed equipment. A new Virtual Exercise Environment can be conveniently built using the REGAL architecture. Different sensors are employed to track the users’ head and arm movements so that they can interact with the surrounding environment. Stereo 3D perspective is calculated based on the position and orientation of user’s eyes to provide an immersive experience in the virtual exercise environment. To make exercise games even more motivating, internet is induced in the REGAL architecture to allow multiple users at different locations to exercise together. Users can also exercise together with computers when internet is unavailable. Competition and partnership bring more fun and more motivation to exercise game players. More importantly, REGAL provides powerful support to convert existing PC games into VEEs. The traditional keyboard and mouse input of PC games can be mapped to the body movement input using REGAL. This mapping changes the fine motor control into an interactive gross motor interface, so that users can expend more energy and have a healthier lifestyle when they play PC games. Considering the huge user base of PC games and the bad effects on health, this mapping might benefit most game players and has a positive influence on people’s health in the whole world.