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EmpathEyes: Immersive virtual reality simulation of visual impairments using smart phones.

Nirmalendu Prakash Diwakar


Over 80% of blindness cases in the world today are preventable or treatable. Lack of awareness about visual impairments, their impact on sight, and the negative results of not seeking treatment at the early stages contribute significantly to this state. Further, the lack of empathy among medical fraternity, the patients' family, and caregivers, of the everyday impact of living with such vision impairments is another factor. We have developed EmpathEyes, a system that delivers an immersive virtual reality experience of a range of vision impairments as a possible tool to address this problem. We describe the iterative design process that alternated between implementation, validation by domain experts, and use by lay persons to arrive at a dual-screen solution. We present the details of the implementation and the results of the simulation. Early user trials involving more than 150 lay users demonstrate the potential of EmpathEyes.