Using Positional Tracking to Monitor Gaze in VR - Pilot Study
Objectives: The first phase was conducted to 1) assess participants’ level of comfort during extended use of HMDs, and 2) evaluate gaze as a measure of visual attention. Phase 2’s primary goal: use these findings to inform the design of a background VR environment capable of 1) automatic data recording, 2) displaying playlists of 360° videos, and 3) providing a framework for custom stimuli setup.
Methods: Phase 1 consisted of 4 participants with a neurodevelopmental disorder(s) including ASD - both verbal and nonverbal (ages 6 to 18), and 2 TD participants (ages 5 to 11). Each participant watched five 360° videos varied across dimensions of social and physical intensity on an oculus DK2. Visual attention was defined as the central 25°s of the visible 100° FoV (Field of View) in the DK2. Questions and observations concerning comfort and overall enjoyment were recorded by a confederate. For phase 2, our initial approach was translated and modified within Unity, a popular game development platform.
Results: On average, participants spent 14 minutes and 21 seconds wearing the DK2, and responded positively during the session and to questions post-viewing. Notably, none of the participants with ASD paused or removed the headset, and only one TD participant briefly removed their headset during the “physical intense” 360° video (a rollercoaster ride). Results from the attention measure generally align with previous findings in the literature. Translation to Unity allowed for automatic data recording through a combination of Unity’s Raycasting API and tagged “detection zones” for stimuli. Advantages included the removal of added time spent on data collection after setup and greater overall flexibility.
Conclusions: The initial evaluation of commercial HMDs for tracking attention and potential usability in applications and research targeting individuals with ASD is encouraging, however, further investigation is needed before concerns over sensory sensitivities are fully resolved. While the second phase of the project is still in development, progress and results from ongoing recruitment will be reported.