Graduation Year

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Computer Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Srinivas Katkoori, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Andrew Raij, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Redwan Alqasemi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul Rosen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jing Wang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eleazar Vasquez, Ph.D.

Keywords

Instruction Methods, Visual Fidelity, View Zoom, Environmental Clutter, Environmental Motion

Abstract

Virtual reality has been a popular training tool for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in recent years. Although virtual reality was proven to be a promising tool for individuals with ASD by many previous studies, effects of virtual reality properties on user experience is still an unexplored area. More comparison studies and reliable data are needed to identify the benefits of different VR methods and properties, and leverage the future VR systems. In this dissertation, we explored effects of virtual reality properties on user experience of high functioning individuals with ASD with four different serious game experiments. The first experiment consisted of a virtual reality serious game system for vocational training of individuals with ASD. Although this experiment was focused on the effectiveness of virtual reality training on vocational skills of individuals with ASD and was not comparative; during the user study with 9 neurotypical and 9 high functioning ASD individuals, several observations regarding the effects of virtual reality properties on user experience have been performed. The next three experiments investigated the following: effects of instruction methods on user performance with virtual reality warehouse serious game, effects of visual fidelity and view zoom on user performance with a virtual reality investigation serious game, and effects of environmental clutter and motion on user performance with a virtual reality searching serious game. These three experiments were evaluated with user studies of 15 neurotypical and 15 high functioning ASD individuals. Our motivation was to provide positive contribution to the design and development of future virtual reality serious games targeting individuals with ASD so that more benefits could be gained from these applications. Results of the virtual reality for vocational rehabilitation experiment indicated that virtual reality provided effective training especially for the money management, cleaning and social skills of high functioning individuals with ASD. The distracters in the form of background motion and audio did not affect the performance of the participants significantly. Based on the results of the instruction methods experiment, using animated instructions and avoiding verbal instructions in virtual environments was recommended for an audience of high functioning individuals with ASD. The visual fidelity and view zoom experiment’s results indicated that using low visual fidelity and normal view zoom are better design principles for training applications targeting high functioning individuals with ASD. The results of the experiment on clutter and motion in virtual worksp aces suggested that using no clutter and no motion in training applications targeting high functioning individuals with ASD would provide better user experience. Several other design guidelines based on data analysis and observation were shared in the study, with the aim of leveraging future virtual reality serious games targeting high functioning individuals with ASD.

Available for download on Saturday, November 18, 2017

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