Eelke Folmer
University of Nevada, Reno

SIMVIZ: Simulation of Visual Impairments using a See-through Display

Simulation of a visual impairment may lead to a better understanding of how individuals with visual impairments perceive the world around them and could be a useful design tool for interface designers to identify accessibility barriers. Current simulation tools, however, suffer from a number of limitations, pertaining cost, accuracy and immersion. We present SIMVIZ a low-cost simulation tool that can simulate various types of visual impairments with a high degree of immersion. SIMVIZ enables quick accessibility inspections during iterative software development.

How it works

We mounted a wide angle camera (Playstation 4 Camera) on a commercially available head mounted display (Oculus rift) and we feed the camera feed back into the display to create an augmented reality see-through display. A distinguishing feature of the Oculus Rift is its large 110 degree FOV, which fills the users entire field of vision and creates a strong sense of immersion. We use VR Player to render the video stream into the Oculus Rift. VR Player supports various effects that can be defined using the High-level shading language (HLSL). Based on example photos provided by the National Eye Institute we created various filters using HLSL to implement the following visual impairments: (1) color blindness, (2) Glaucoma, (3) Cataracts, (4) Diabetic Retinopathy, and (5) Macular Degeneration. Using a keyboard shortcut users can quickly cycle through the different impairments and adjust their intensity.


SimViz now available in the Play store as an app for Google Cardboard. SimViz simulates: cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, floaters and 3 types of color blindness. Try it out and let us know what you think!


GizMag Magazine - SIMVIZ simulates visual impairments with see-through VR display


Halim Cagri Ates, Alexander Fiannaca, and Eelke Folmer, Immersive Simulation of Visual Impairments Using a Wearable See-through Display,Proceedings of Tangible Embodied Interaction (TEI'15), Pages 225--228, Stanford, January 2015. [28% acceptance rate]