A new Microsoft research paper has proposed the use of cane controllers, or ‘canetrollers,’ in order to make virtual reality more accessible.
As it stands now, virtual reality is fairly dependent on sight, making it all but impossible to enjoy for those who have visual impairments.
By using a haptic VR accessory in the form of a cane, people with visual impairments can sense the virtual world around them. The canetroller simulates cane interactions by providing feedback to the user through sound and vibration.
It also features a brake, which stops cane motion from moving through horizontal or vertical surfaces.
In Microsoft’s simulation, the canetroller was paired with an HTC Vive VR headset, used solely for tracking the user’s head position and delivering 3D spatial audio.
While Microsoft’s prototype is far from a commercial product, the project is a step in the right direction when it comes to making VR accessible to everyone.