Monday, 30 August 2010

Sociology of objects, disability access to viewers

Following on from my previous posts I have been playing with scripts and the ways in which virtual plants may react to avatars, in particular I played around with the idea of trees that could react to an avatars height by lowering their fruits so the avatar could reach them. All potentially just theory since an avatars SL range is well beyond their physical reach, but the idea of using data gathered from an avatar to create reactions and interactions or even help via object changes sparked this memory:

Many years ago I studied the sociology of objects for a year, in particular computers and other tech, we were shown black and white photos of the first computers that filled whole rooms and in front of these chairs. We discovered the chairs were used to stand on by the operators to reach the top dials and controls, but the surprise was this, the computers were designed by men who never expected anyone other than tall males to control the computers, in reality a large majority of the controllers and programmers were women.

It just made me think about the way objects in virtual worlds are programmed and in also how the viewers themselves are perhaps enclosed to a particular user base, which led to a few ideas I thought I would throw out there:

Why not have a viewer side option to allow the remapping of colours? A simple screen showing the colour along with a text description to allow people who are colourblind to alter what they need.

Profile options for "hidden" disabilities, e.g hard of hearing, which a scripted object could the pick up, for example an object could sense an avatar with hearing problems and increase its sound volume output when they are near. These options could be hidden from people viewing your profile but I guess by allowing scripted object access to these "flags" could lead to some dubious programming.

More movement options, there are very few real movement control alternatives built into sl, this caught my eye on Philip Lindens love machine site for their own loveviewer:
The ability to move an avatar just by moving the mouse forwards and backwards! how simple!

Mouse controlled chat HUD, I realise that there is already software available for this such as built in GUI keyboards on operating systems and voice controlled text etc but I always see SL as an operating system in and of itself, the ability to layer huds and avatar controlled objects on to this keeps it a concise package. A graphical GUI hud for sl text chat along with programmable keys for set sentences/phrases would fit, or even to save more screen space a txt chat option with fewer keys could be shown. Again, no reason why this could not be created in the viewer itself, there are already a few chat huds sowing some of these features.

Very small option and one that some more builds could really benefit by, when an object is interactive it's sometimes hard to see just where? why not add context sensitive options, when hovering near or over click-able parts, increase levels of glow for example.

One final thought was on using windlight settings to create high contrast options for the visually impaired, I've had a quick go at doing this but without great success.

Anyway, I may have sidetracked myself from my previous posts objectives and maybe alternatives already exist for the above options, but it did lead me to looking at the GUI/viewer itself and IT's usability for the majority.

No comments:

Post a Comment