student profile: Ms Kiran Ijaz


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Thesis work

Thesis title: VR-Rides: Immersive Virtual Reality Exergames for Health

Supervisors: Sharon NAISMITH , Rafael CALVO , Naseem AHMADPOUR

Thesis abstract:

Physical activity is widely recognized as key for reducing the risk of many health issues and to improve overall wellbeing. According to World Health Organization’s report, the lack of physical activity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths worldwide (World Health Organization 2016). An active lifestyle is particularly vital to control rising medical costs for those suffering various cognitive and physical problems who often have great difficulty navigating and recognizing familiar locations (Zakzanis, Quintin, Graham and Mraz 2009). There is also alarming obesity rates among children, teenagers and adults globally (World Health Organization 2015). In addition, age has a profound effect on mobility and can turn a simple walk around the neighborhood into a frustrating and frightening experience. Many seniors live an understandably sedentary life.
Exergames—games that encourage physical motion have grown in popularity recently. Health professionals use them as an alternative form of treatment and to promote an active lifestyle (Osorio, Moffat and Sykes 2012). Some of these games were initially designed for entertainment (Nintendo Wii Sports 2006), while others were specifically designed to motive people to change their sedentary behaviour (Anderson-Hanley et al. 2012). Virtual reality (VR) can provide compelling experiences which might enhance users’ engagement with physical activity. Yet the exergames literature using immersive virtual reality is still under-explored. Moreover, despite the known health benefits of exergaming, there is a limited understanding of how various game designs impact user experience. In this project (Ijaz, Wang, Milne and Calvo 2016) we are developing “VR Rides”, a virtual reality exergaming platform that combines a recumbent tricycle, real-world panoramic images, an Oculus Rift headset and a Microsoft Kinect camera, where the player can navigate real locations in a safe virtual environment.
Having established the platform described above, the key challenge is to translate it into an experience that both young and older players will find appealing. Unlike younger people, older adults are unlikely to engage with technology simply for technologies sake, and may not be familiar with or respond well to traditional game mechanics. Consequently, we are developing two distinct game modes: Affiliative and Competitive. Competitive guess game aims to challenge players to navigate familiar environments; in contrast, affiliative virtual tour allows players to share memories and locations that are of personal significance. We plan to conduct various user studies to test feasibility and effectiveness of this platform and related games to promote physical and cognitive activity. The primary measures of these experiments will focus on engagement and motivation: e.g. whether players voluntarily register for future sessions with VR-Rides platform. However, we would also ideally measure whether access to these games has a lasting effect on one’s mobility and cause continuing behavior change.

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Ijaz, K., Bogdanovych, A., Trescak, T. (2017). Virtual worlds vs books and videos in history education. Interactive Learning Environments, 25(7), 904-929. [More Information]

Conferences

  • Ijaz, K., Wang, Y., Milne, D., Calvo, R. (2016). Competitive vs Affiliative Design of Immersive VR Exergames. 2nd International Joint Conference on Serious Games (JCSG 2016), Cham: Springer International Publishing. [More Information]
  • Ijaz, K., Wang, Y., Milne, D., Calvo, R. (2016). VR-Rides: Interactive VR Games for Health. 2nd International Joint Conference on Serious Games (JCSG 2016), Cham: Springer International Publishing. [More Information]

2017

  • Ijaz, K., Bogdanovych, A., Trescak, T. (2017). Virtual worlds vs books and videos in history education. Interactive Learning Environments, 25(7), 904-929. [More Information]

2016

  • Ijaz, K., Wang, Y., Milne, D., Calvo, R. (2016). Competitive vs Affiliative Design of Immersive VR Exergames. 2nd International Joint Conference on Serious Games (JCSG 2016), Cham: Springer International Publishing. [More Information]
  • Ijaz, K., Wang, Y., Milne, D., Calvo, R. (2016). VR-Rides: Interactive VR Games for Health. 2nd International Joint Conference on Serious Games (JCSG 2016), Cham: Springer International Publishing. [More Information]

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.