Toward Making Virtual Reality (VR) More Inclusive for Older Adults

Zhiqing Wu1, Duotun Wang1, Shumeng Zhang1, Yuru Huang1, Zeyu Wang1,2, Mingming Fan1,2
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou)1, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology2


Recent studies show the promise of VR in improving physical, cognitive, and emotional health of older adults. However, prior work on optimizing object selection and manipulation performance in VR was mostly conducted among younger adults. It remains unclear how older adults would perform such tasks compared to younger adults and the challenges they might face. To fill in this gap, we conducted two studies with both older and younger adults to understand their performances and user experiences of object selection and manipulation in VR respectively. Based on the results, we delineated interaction difficulties that older adults exhibited in VR and identified multiple factors, such as headset-related neck fatigue, extra head movements from out-of-view interactions, and slow spatial perceptions, that significantly decreased the motor performance of older adults. We further proposed design recommendations for improving the accessibility of direct interaction experiences in VR for older adults.

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