Shopping is a fundamental aspect of everyday life, allowing individuals to purchase the goods and services they need to live comfortably and happily. However, for individuals with physical disabilities, such as wheelchair users, shopping can be a challenging and inaccessible experience. Many physical stores are designed with able-bodied individuals in mind, which can make it difficult for wheelchair users to navigate and access products.
Fortunately, a team of researchers including Inhwa Yeom of BiOVE Labs has developed an innovative solution to address this issue. The ARbility project leverages the power of augmented reality (AR) to create an inclusive and accessible shopping experience for wheelchair users. By wearing AR glasses during shopping, wheelchair users can enjoy the same shopping experience as non-motor impaired individuals, with the added benefit of an AR interface and image recognition technology.
In this post, we will explore the ARbility project in more detail, highlighting the benefits and potential impact of this innovative solution. We will also examine the design principles that guided the development of the prototype and consider how this technology could be expanded to other areas beyond shopping venues.
The ARbility project aims to address the issue of inclusivity in public environments, specifically in brick-and-mortar shopping venues, where the design and layout of facilities are often based on the needs of the non-physically-challenged. The researchers have developed an augmented shopping system prototype that leverages AR interface and image recognition techniques to provide an enhanced shopping experience for wheelchair users.
The prototype allows wheelchair users to have the same shopping experience as non-motor impaired individuals by constructing augmented reality within offline stores. The users wear HMD AR devices, such as the Hololens 1, during shopping. When the user requests product information, the prototype infers the relevant information and displays it in front of the user as a 3D object.
The use of HMD AR and image recognition technology provides a more accessible and inclusive shopping experience for wheelchair users. By incorporating augmented reality into the shopping environment, the prototype eliminates the need for wheelchair users to physically access products, which can often be difficult due to the layout and design of the store.
Overall, the ARbility project has the potential to significantly enhance the shopping experience for wheelchair users, providing a more inclusive and accessible environment that is tailored to their needs. The use of HMD AR and image recognition technology offers a novel solution to the challenges faced by wheelchair users in physical environments, and could potentially be expanded to other areas beyond shopping venues.
The main goal of the project is to enhance the inclusion of wheelchair users in public environments. Therefore, the design principles should prioritize inclusivity and accessibility for this user group.
The augmented shopping system should be easy to use and understand for both wheelchair users and store employees. The interface should be intuitive and straightforward, with clear instructions and feedback.
The use of AR technology should not interfere with the shopping experience or draw attention away from the physical products in the store. The augmented reality should seamlessly blend with the physical environment, creating a cohesive and integrated experience.
The prototype should be customizable to meet the individual needs and preferences of wheelchair users. For example, users may have different preferences for the size, color, or font of the AR interface.
The prototype should prioritize the safety of the user and other individuals in the store. For example, the AR glasses should not obstruct the user’s vision or pose a hazard to other shoppers.
The augmented reality should be realistic and accurate, with high-quality 3D representations of the physical products in the store. This can help build trust and confidence in the system.
Publication & Award
🥈 This project was awarded Silver Prize from SK Creative Challenge 2019 supported by SK Telecom, SK HCI-UX Lab, SK AI Center
Accepted, ARbility: Re-Inviting Older Wheelchair Users to In-Store Shopping via Wearable AR, Springer VR (SCI Q1, IF:6.91), 2023