Immersive virtual reality simulations of bionic vision

Justin Kasowski, Michael Beyeler ACM Augmented Humans (AHs) ‘22

Immersive virtual reality simulations of bionic vision

Abstract

Bionic vision uses neuroprostheses to restore useful vision to people living with incurable blindness. However, a major outstanding challenge is predicting what people ‘see’ when they use their devices. The limited field of view of current devices necessitates head movements to scan the scene, which is difficult to simulate on a computer screen. In addition, many computational models of bionic vision lack biological realism. To address these challenges, we present VR-SPV, an open-source virtual reality toolbox for simulated prosthetic vision that uses a psychophysically validated computational model to allow sighted participants to ‘see through the eyes’ of a bionic eye user. To demonstrate its utility, we systematically evaluated how clinically reported visual distortions affect behavioral performance in a letter recognition and an immersive obstacle avoidance task. Our results highlight the importance of using an appropriate phosphene model when predicting visual outcomes for bionic vision.