Virtual reality is rapidly becoming a reality in all facets of technology, education, entertainment and the workplace.
It’s a popular topic, and that of Augusta University Lynsey Steinberg of the Center for Educational Innovation sat down to answer a few questions about how far VR has come — and where it’s headed.
VR changes everyday life for many. What are the biggest advancements you’ve seen in VR usage?
Virtual reality is evolving and expanding rapidly. It wasn’t that long ago that we were excited about the idea of a wireless headset. Now there are companies like Virtuix making 360-degree treadmills to interact with your experience in VR and Hypnos VR – a product that releases scents into the air based on the experience in VR.
Advances have been made with adaptive and stress response simulations based on pupillometry measurements or even integration of physiological sensors for behavioral research. The biggest advances are solutions that were previously unimaginable and are now completely possible.
It seems that the medical world has been a big benefactor of VR. Does this give students a better way to learn about anatomy and other aspects of the field?
I believe that all experience is valuable to learn. VR is unique in that it allows an individual to look at virtual experiential learning from their own perspective. We often hear the phrase, “If you could imagine a mile in someone else’s shoes,” and now we can provide perspective, allowing another person to see the world if someone with a particular illness or training simulates an environment with a low risk.
One example, Fire in the OR, is a VR simulation that allows medical professionals to safely train in the elimination of fire hazards in the operating room. I believe that simulations like these are remarkable examples of how valuable VR can be in education, in removing elements of danger from everyday life. Their research showed an improvement percentage of 250% on fire safety in the OR.
A huge industry leader in surgical simulation is Osso VR, which creates surgical training procedures for surgeons and hires some of our graduates in medical illustration from Augusta University.
How is this applied to Augusta University?
The Center for Instructional Innovation created modules with the Medical College of Georgia on handwash hygiene, health and end-of-life care scenarios with the College of Nursing†
We encourage educators to develop multiple methods of interactive modules to suit all learning styles. VR certainly provides engaging and enriching materials for a low-risk environment in education. The Center for Educational Innovation is currently collaborating with the Academic Success Center to deploy Oculus Quest headsets for anatomy and physiology students to take advantage of using applications in VR.
How have VR and its use changed the way we live our daily lives?
VR headsets are well known in robotics, manufacturing, therapeutic modalities, gaming capabilities, technology, research and education. Any scene you can film in 360 degrees can now be viewed in a headset and be completely immersed in the scene – for example, a theater production, a museum tour, an art exhibition, a historically preserved temple. We have gone from telling a story to being immersed in a story.
We have been able to use the integration and innovation of VR technology on campus to create enriching learning experiences. We collaborated with ceramics, including Brian McGrath and Raoul Pachecho, to support students in virtual clay sculpting with Adobe Medium. Students printed their artwork in 3D after exporting the files from the VR simulation.
Where do you see the future of VR?
The future developments for integrating haptic feedback systems will be remarkable integrations. The further development of behavioral research and the integration of gamification is a great opportunity in VR, as well as the further development of protocols and appropriate safety procedures. The cross-platform and cross-disciplinary capabilities will allow creativity to flourish in new global solutions. It is clear that the ongoing need for technical personnel who can create and support VR and other high-impact technology is growing rapidly.
Steinberg is one of 300 certified medical illustrators. She uses developments in virtual reality, 3D printing, animation, gamification and graphic design to support innovation in students, teachers and doctors.