A pioneering testing environment serves vision examination

The Kauppi district in Tampere houses a functional vision testing environment that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Functionality and simulation of a real environment in vision examination is still new in the world.

The vision testing and innovation environment Visaxion has been developed for non-profit research purposes in the eye and vision field, but also for commercial use as a purchased service.

 – Ready-to-use simulated occupational and traffic vision environments, ready-made test packages and our expertise have been shaped into a service that companies can purchase, says Hanna Samposalo, the project manager leading the development of the testing environments from the University of Tampere.

A traffic simulator has been set up on the Visaxion test platform which can be used, for example, to examine the focus of the gaze and reaction speed during a test drive that simulates a real traffic situation.

The simulator can be utilized to examine where the user’s gaze is focused when driving a car, for example: what we pay attention to when crossing a road. Traffic simulates city, urban area and highway environments in which it is possible to place more actors such as pedestrians, cyclists or, say, a moose crossing the road causing an unexpected situation. (The video shows driving around in a city and a highway environment and a moose crossing the road.)

– The simulator provides an objective and safe way to bring a person into a traffic situation. By placing objects in a specific area in the field of vision it is possible to examine how well the user perceives the object and whether that perception prompts a desired reaction, such as braking, says Hanna Samposalo.

The display solution projected on three walls covering 180 degrees is positioned three meters from the user: the immersive space simulates the field of vision in a real environment.

liikennesimulaattori ja ympärillä kaupunkiliikennettä, auto ja jalankulkija ylittämässä tietä
The traffic simulator is a safe and functional way to test vision. Picture: The University of Tampere

The traffic simulator is manufactured by Creanex Oy from Tampere. Due to its versatility, the simulator can be easily adapted for different purposes.

– The situations are fully controllable and reproducible, which enables collecting and analyzing comparable data even from a larger group, says Markku Pusenius, CEO of Creanex Oy.

– We are excited about the future. The collaboration has been fruitful for both parties, and we have already agreed on the next steps for the continued collaboration between Visaxion and Creanex, Samposalo tells.

Hanna Samposalo in the traffic simulator. Picture: The Council of Tampere Region

The Visaxion innovation and testing platform was developed in the Murroksestanäkyvää menestystä ja liiketoimintaa (Success and business from the culminating vision competence) (2015–2019) project coordinated by the Research and Development Center for Ophthalmic Innovations, SILK, at the University of Tampere. The European Regional Development Fund project was funded by the Council of Tampere Region.

As of now (2021), ongoing research at the University of Tampere utilizes the Visaxion test platform to study the functional vision of glaucoma patients in a simulated office environment, among other things. Here, in turn, eye and head movement tracking as well as reaction speeds and the use of control devices in traffic are utilized.

– There is reference data collected on the test platform from 20–70-year-olds with normal vision which enables comparing and analyzing the tasks.

The dots shown on the screen indicate where the driver has focused their gaze while driving. Picture: The Council of Tampere Region

In addition to the elderly and those of working age, research, development and innovation work utilizing eye movement tracking has also been carried out in the study of children’s vision.

Moreover, functional vision examinations can be used to improve working conditions and assistive equipment.

– Occupational vision can be improved with optimal lighting and glasses that block blue light as well as by adjusting the contrast of the monitor, Samposalo illustrates.

In addition to researchers and companies, Samposalo believes that the facilities can also be utilized by students from different fields in the future, when the daily life at work returns to its normal course.

Visaxion is also actively participating in the preparations of Health technology testbeds in the Tampere Region by Business Tampere, which aim at highlighting company connections and collaboration opportunities, particularly from an international viewpoint.

Website of the Visaxion testing and innovation environment

Read about the traffic simulator manufactured by Creanex.

Success and business from the culminating vision competence (development section)

Duration: 9/1/2015–12/31/2019
Total cost: 703,586 euros
Share of ERDF and government funding: 422,153 euros

Funders: The Council of Tampere Region, the University of Tampere

Success and business from the culminating vision competence (investment section)

Duration: 9/1/2015 – 12/31/2019
Total cost: 96,000 euros
Share of ERDF and government funding: 48,000 euros

Funders: The Council of Tampere Region, the University of Tampere