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Clemson researchers using interactive vision tool for driving studies

CLEMSON, S.C. Researchers at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) and the psychology department have partnered with Perceptual Testing Inc. of San Diego to study the relationship between visual function, muscular coordination and driving.

The researchers are using Vision Coach, an interactive light board used in rehabilitation clinics across the country by occupational, physical, vision, speech and language therapists; and driver-rehabilitation therapists. Robin Donley, president of Perceptual Testing, said, "Many times improvement in visual function and visual information-processing skills can enhance not only the driving experience, but also the quality of life for many patients."

The Vision Coach, while used for many rehabilitation purposes, also is used to train professional athletes, the military and law enforcement professionals. Perceptual Testing searched the nation for a research partner and selected the team at CU-ICAR due to its automotive expertise as well as its clinical partnership with the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center.

"It is exciting to have a partner who can conduct research in a university setting and immediately apply those findings in a clinical setting," Donley said.

According to Clemson psychology professor and researcher Johnell Brooks, "Maximizing driving independence can be best accomplished through public and private partnerships between universities, health care facilities and industry."

Her research studying drivers' capabilities and limitations has taken her from academic research to clinical application. Brooks also has an appointment as a clinical researcher with the Greenville Hospital System. The partnership between CU-ICAR and Perceptual Testing has led to additional programs at the hospital's Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital.

The vision research also is likely to influence future automotive designs.

Paul Venhovens, the BMW Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration at CU-ICAR, said an increased understanding of drivers' vision and coordination can support improving general vehicle design. It also is crucial to understand the interaction between the driver, vehicle and the driving environment while designing and evaluating future driver-assistance systems aimed to support drivers of all ages in complex driving tasks.


Contact: Johnell Brooks
Clemson University

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