Visualization Interface for XR Optimization with ILLIXR; Virtual Reality to Improve the Lives of People with Dementia

Zoscak, Alanna, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Khan, Samira, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

In my undergraduate application to the University of Virginia, I wrote about how I would develop technology to help my grandmother. She has since passed away from dementia, and I wanted to learn how the technology I was working with during my capstone technical project could help others in the same condition. STS analysis of the ethical dimensions of technology reminds us that as engineers, we have a responsibility to analyze the impact of the technology we create, because it could affect those as dear to us as our family and many more.

For the technical portion of my project, I designed, implemented, and tested a visualization tool to satisfy the requirements of researchers analyzing logged ILLIXR data. ILLIXR is the first open-source extended reality testbed; enabling anyone access to the state-of-the-art components present in extended reality systems. For my project, I designed a featureful visualization interface which incorporates libraries and embellishes their plotting functionality, such that a user can visualize accurate component run-times and relationships, distinguish components by color, and visually emphasize key interactions through zoom and reordering. By creating a tool for visualizing bottlenecks, dependencies, and potential parallelization, I contributed a next step in the path to developing a more efficient resource scheduler and ultimately to advancing extended reality technologies.

In my STS research, I evaluated the use of virtual reality, a subset of extended reality, by people with dementia. Researchers caution the use of technology by vulnerable individuals, such as those with dementia, for reasons such as safety, social-isolation, and autonomy. I investigated the efficaciousness, usability, and collateral damages of virtual reality applications in dementia treatment. Along the ethical dimensions of safety, social-isolation, and autonomy, I discovered that virtual reality has overcome and even surpassed these challenges as it sparks social interaction and increases autonomy. These accomplishments were due to thoughtful design of the technological interventions, which tailored the virtual reality technology to address the challenges that people with dementia face in their everyday lives. Further, I found that virtual reality headsets are comfortable, safe, and highly enjoyable for older adults with dementia, and that virtual reality significantly improves their quality of life.

My technical project gave me the opportunity to apply software design concepts and carry out the phases of software development for a specific application nestled within the field of extended reality. Further, it taught me the processes and complexity behind developing extended reality technology, as it encompasses and incorporates many different fields. Supplementing this technical knowledge, my STS research challenged me to explore the ethical dimensions of the technology I was contributing to. It taught me the power of design that thoughtfully tailored solutions could have a profound impact. Together, the projects gave me a more holistic view of the field of extended reality and the power it has to transform an elderly person’s life for the better.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Virtual Reality, Dementia, Extended Reality

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Samira Khan
STS Advisor: Richard Jacques

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