Buddy biking: a user study on social collaboration in a virtual reality exergame for rehabilitation

Emil Rosenlund Høeg, Jon Ram Bruun-Pedersen, Shannon Cheary, Lars Koreska Andersen, Razvan Paisa, Stefania Serafin, Belinda Lange

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Abstract

Virtual reality (VR)-based rehabilitation is a growing technological field, which gradually becomes integrated into existing programs. However, technology has to support human behavior and -needs, including social relatedness, to achieve health related outcomes. Elderly people have high risk of loneliness, and VR has technological affinity for natural social interaction. Previous studies have relied on competitiveness rather than collaborative elements, but research shows that competitiveness can lead to (feelings of) stress and aggressive behavior in some individuals. This article presents a mixed methods study to gather end-user feedback on a social VR scenario that encourages inter-player collaboration on a virtual tandem bike. Outpatients ( n = 11 , 64% males, 60 ± 11 years) were invited to participate with a co-player (friend or family). Participants biked on average 10.7 (± 3) minutes with a mean speed of 14.8 kmph (± 5.8). The results indicate potential and feasibility for the collaborative social biking application. Participants reported excellent usability-scores (85 ± 5), high intrinsic motivation in all categories: enjoyment (6.5 ± 0.5), effort/importance (6.4 ± 0.3), relatedness (6.3 ± 0.7) and minimal increase in symptoms of nausea, oculomotor and disorientation. Furthermore, participants found the social aspect enjoyable, agreed that collaboration eased tasks and that they lost track of exercise duration. Interpersonal interaction between participants varied, but was mostly positively rated valence, even if the sense of copresence was limited by physical constraints and avatar representation. Most participants expressed that they would use the program again, but future studies should explore how to
improve location and appearance of the virtual coactor, as well as implement additional tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalVirtual Reality
Early online date27 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Virtual reality
  • Social interaction
  • Physical therapy
  • Exergaming
  • Motivation
  • User-centered design
  • Older adults

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