Research | Virtual & Augmented Reality

Immersive VR enhances usability in motor training

In collaboration with the Inselspital Neurology Department, the ARTORG Motor Learning and Neurorehabilitation lab has studied the effects of immersive virtual reality technology on cognitive load motivation and usability in while performing rehabilitation-like movements. The team was able to show that virtual reality (VR) using head-mounted displays (HMDs) is more usable than a standard computer screen to visualize three-dimensional training experience and helped participants to increase their embodiment and motivation.

Study setup at the Motor Learning and Neurorehabilitation lab. (Photo: Adrian Moser © University of Bern)

The researchers ran an experiment with 20 healthy participants who simultaneously performed a 3D motor reaching and a cognitive counting task with: (1) immersive VR HMD, (2) augmented reality HMD, and (3) computer screen (2D screen). Participants then filled out a questionnaire to evaluate whether the visualization technology impacted their cognitive load, motivation, technology usability, and embodiment. 

No difference was reported on cognitive load across visualization technologies. However, immersive virtual reality  was more motivating and usable than augmented reality and the 2D screen. Higher embodiment was reported for both HMDs than for the 2D screen. These results support the group’s previous finding that immersive VR HMDs seem to be more suitable than the common 2D screens employed in VR-based therapy when training 3D movements.