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Evaluating Unity created teaching simulations within occupational therapy

Greg Sutton (University of Derby, Derby, UK)
Karen Newberry (Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Derby, Derby, UK)
Kate Threapleton (School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Article publication date: 19 September 2016




The purpose of this paper is to describe the evaluation of an educational occupational therapy home visit simulation newly built in Unity, compared with a previously created simulation based in the Open Sim platform. The evaluation is based on students’ preferences.


A simulation was built in Unity in which the academic content was identical to the previous Open Sim-based simulation. Student groups used the simulations then completed a questionnaire. Numerical data and descriptive comments were analysed.


Students preferred the simulation built in Unity to the Open Sim simulation. Improvements with the Unity simulation include; reduced time to gain competence to use, ease of use and fewer negative physiological experiences. The small percentage of students experiencing motion sickness is an ongoing concern and warrants further investigation. The Unity simulation may also be useful as an academic assessment tool.

Research limitations/implications

Findings are limited by short time usage of the simulations in 3D virtual worlds with confined spaces and no requirement for in-world group interaction, and by some methodological limitations including the research being based within a single higher education institution, and with a profession-specific group of students.


This paper highlights student preference for using a purpose built simulation created with Unity over a simulation built in Open Sim, showing where best to spend future development time and funding. Similar comparison research is scarce.



Sutton, G., Newberry, K. and Threapleton, K. (2016), "Evaluating Unity created teaching simulations within occupational therapy", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 162-170.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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