Saturday, October 25, 2014

So I tried playing Diplopia while undergoing transcranial direct current stimulation...

... with positive results.  It was inevitable for me to try this.

The Bricks game is generally very difficult for me.  But this time I did extremely well.

It's hard to say whether I'm getting better at the game because I'm learning how to interpret what I'm seeing in the game, or whether it's because my vision is improving.  Likely, it's both.  Usually with Bricks, I'm pretty bad, especially when the ball comes at me on the left side (my suppressing side) and in the mid-left side.  My judgement really stinks in that area.  But this time I did extraordinarily well.  I have never got past the second level.  This time, I got past the fourth level.  My judgement just seemed to be very good.  Is it because of improved vision?  I don't know.

Putting on the electrodes was a pain in the ass (like always), but particularly so because I have to situate them around the HMD.  I guess what gave me the idea to try Diplopia with tDCS is because tDCS is known to help with fatigue.  One of the things that I've learned in my vision therapy journey is to take breaks, especially if you have high-intensity workouts.  A friend had visited for a few days and during those days I did not play Diplopia.  Those days I saw visual improvement.  So I think I'm going to do a two day off, two day on schedule.  However, this is the third day, but I figured that I could get through it if I combine it with tDCS since it's known to help with fatigue.  But since I can do it with tDCS, I may as well do Diplopia with tDCS since tDCS is also known to help with vision therapy exercises that focus on breaking through suppression.

The Diplopia workouts are definitely good even without tDCS, so I may mix and match sessions with and without, but if I had to guess, they do combine quite nicely.  I'll be doing this in future sessions for sure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An update on progress with Diplopia

I mentioned in previous entries that I stopped doing ordinary vision therapy after I got my Oculus Rift.  Now all of my vision therapy is done via the Oculus Rift through the game Diplopia.  I've been playing Diplopia for almost two weeks.  Here's where I currently am with it.

I am making progress with Diplopia, although it's not as fast as the progress which others have reported.  One of the test subjects, Dillon, reported seeing depth immediately after putting on the HMD and playing the game for a bit.  James said that it took around five sessions for the game to correct his vision and to get flashes of stereopsis.  Diplopia seems to work very quickly in general, but not as fast for me, probably because my brain sucks. :/

That said, I am making quick progress.  It's hard to explain exactly how I'm making progress, just that I am.  I suppose you could say that my double vision input streams are converging on one another.  Also, when I look at something close up, I'm very aware of the two input streams.  So the suppression has come down.  With decreased suppression comes more overt diplopia, although it's not very bothersome for some reason, probably because the input streams are converging pretty well.

Playing the games is still tricky.  I'm kicking ass at Space.  I've figured out that game pretty well, and I'm able to fly the spacecraft through the rings with good facility.  It's enjoyable.  Sometimes I lose track of the spacecraft because I can only see it with my left eye.  I can tell that the game is really working my vision. 

The other game, Breaker, I'm getting better at.  It's still tricky, however, especially when I have to whack the ball in certain areas.  Around midfield on the right side I almost always whiff.  My depth perception still sucks in the game Breaker, while it seems to be pretty good at Space.  

Anyway, it's still early.  It's only been a bit more than a week.  We'll see where it takes me in a month.   

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Diplopia beta has been released to those who opted in (FINALLY!!!)

So I got Diplopia beta.  I played it for around 40 minutes yesterday.  You can consider this an informal review of the game so far.

The first impression that I have of the game after starting the executable is that it is very smooth and apparently polished.  There's also no anti-aliasing so some of the edges are pixelated.

It does a number of vision tests for suppression and visual integration, and then you get launched into the game.

The two games I've seen thus far is a Breakout-type game, and another game where you're flying through space blasting asteroids with a spacecraft.  The first game that I started (I didn't select to play the game, it just chose for me) was the spacecraft game.  The game starts with a timer set for 20 minutes (your vision therapy session length).  Your goal is to get as many points as possible by picking up items that you see.  You have to figure out where they are by gauging depth and space.

After playing for about five minutes, I could tell that the game was definitely doing something to my vision.  I could tell that the game was trying to force me to see in stereo.  It felt like I might have made the sudden shift at any moment, although it didn't happen.  It was definitely a strange sensation.  It was almost like I had approached a portal through which a different world resided, and I was so close to passing through.  That's the best way that I can explain it.

It's a fairly stimulating game--both the spacecraft game and the Breakout game.  You can tell how it works.  It forces both of your eyes to work in order to play the game by making certain elements only visible to each eye.  So with the Breakout game, you have your paddle which you can only see with your left eye, and the ball, which you can see only with the right eye.  In order to play and be successful at the game you must use both eyes.  Because of my suppression, this game is difficult.  I sort of have to guess as to where the paddle is in relationship to where the ball is.  But it's very satisfying when I can whack it because it gives me instant feedback as to where things are in 3d.

It's a brilliant game.  It solves so many problems at once.  For one, because the Oculus Rift has a giant field of view that means that the game can exercise the peripheral vision.  Another thing is that stereoscopic effects aren't produced by an active shutter mechanism, so the composite image is very bright and high quality.  The Oculus Rift DK2 also has positional and orientation tracking so that the vestibular system is engaged with the game (Diplopia has made good, smooth use of the DK2's positional tracking).  Finally, the games are very engaging and stimulating.  They're not boring.  The 20 minute sessions go by pretty quickly.  It's challenging.  You are really paying attention and engaging your brain in order to reach the target goals.  This is what vision therapy should be!

After I did the initial 20 minute session I tried to go back to the spacecraft game that I was playing before, but couldn't.  There's no choice to select the game that you play.  Instead, it took me to the Breakout game, which I played around with for quite a while.  One thing I noticed is that you have to be logged in before you play the game.  I wonder if the guys at Diplopia are tracking you to make sure that you play the spacecraft game for only 20 minutes per day.  You can't play the game if you don't have an active Internet connection.  We'll find out.

For a while I was tempted to make vision therapy games (since I have an Oculus Rift developer kit), but it's hard to see how this can be improved upon.  But maybe that's just a copout.  Major props to James for creating such a powerful use case for VR HMDs.  It's amazingly well put together for a beta.  I'm going to try and contain my excitement and just see how things go for the next week.  Thank you, James!!