Exploring the different approaches and techniques to designing XR, conducting and sharing research to inform how the field develops new technologies that are accessible to people with disabilities.

At Cornell Tech, Professor Shiri Azenkot’s research lab is committed to developing technology that empowers people with disabilities. Prof. Azenkot and her students have been developing XR applications to help people with visual impairments with daily tasks, like navigating stairs and locating products in a supermarket.

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Virtual Showdown

VR games are becoming common, but people with visual impairments are frequently left out of the fun. Some prior work has explored including audio cues as an accompaniment to visual VR experiences, while developers of accessible games have created audio-only versions of popular games for people with visual impairments. However, there’s very little academic research on accessible VR games, pointing to an opportunity to explore how to convey information about moving objects, and how to teach players who may never have played a non-virtual version of a game how to interact with virtual objects. Dr. Kyle Rector and her [...]

AR Navigation

Navigating stairs can be a dangerous mobility challenge for people with low vision. Inadequate handrails, poorly marked steps, and other obstacles can reduce mobility and lead to accidents. While past research has proposed audio stair-navigation aids for blind people, no research on people with low vision has yet addressed this challenge. Cornell Tech PhD student Yuhang Zhao, along with Cx faculty member Shiri Azenkot and other researchers from Cornell Tech and Columbia University, built on this research to design several AR navigation systems for people with low vision. They tested both projection-based and optical see-through smart glasses systems [...]

Interactive 3D Models

Cornell Tech PhD student Lei Shi, faculty member Shiri Azenkot, and their collaborators are studying how to design educational 3D models for students with visual impairments. The researchers interviewed teachers of the visually impaired about the needs of their students, and demonstrated previously designed 3D-printed interactive models and computer vision-based educational tools. Based on interview results, they designed an augmented reality (AR) app that pairs with a 3D printed model. The model’s tactile features help students learn the physical features of a concept, while visual and audio cues from the AR app provide additional information. The study’s results [...]