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Dialed-Down Design: Insights from Developing VR for People with Autism


Lori Landay (Professor, Berklee College of Music)

Location: Room 24, North Hall

Date: Monday, March 19

Time: 4:40pm - 5:10pm

Pass Type: All Access, [email protected] Add On - Get your pass now!

Topic: Entertainment VR/AR

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

VR is being used in therapy, education, and business, among other fields. A team at the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs identified points of intervention to address with VR, yielding not only immersive tools, but also principles of Dialed Down Design. Four major insights arise: intensity matters, guiding attention is tricky, thresholds vary, and balance realism with abstraction. With the surge in accessibility because of consumer devices and WebVR, VR can reach a a wider range of people. Dialed Down Design is only one example of how considering atypical needs can foster better experiences for everyone.


The lessons learned from designing immersive tools for music students on the autism spectrum highlight aspects of good design that are valuable for any designer. Moreover, in a moment when VR/AR/XR could become mainstream mediums, dialed down design might make non-gamers feel more comfortable and welcome in immersive/interactive experiences.