Potential of VR in Pedestrian Safety Research

A new study has sought to determine the potential of VR for the performance of studies that are limited by cost, difficulty, or danger in the real world. The authors used an immersive, interactive VR environment to test pedestrian safety when crossing intersections. Average walking speed with found to be consistent with real-world norms, and rates of pedestrian collision were measured when a vehicle violated the traffic signal in the VR environment. “Overall, the study results confirm the effectiveness of the new virtual reality technology for research on full motion tasks,” the authors conclude.

Deb S, Carruth DW, Sween R, et al. Efficacy of virtual reality in pedestrian safety research. Appl Ergon. 2017.     Basic Research, General VR

Immersive VR for Gait Training Safe and Effective in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

From VR Medicine News-A new study sought to determine the safety of head-mounted displays (HMDs) for long-duration VR walking for rehabilitation in 33 patients (11 healthy young, 11 healthy older adults, and 11 with Parkinson’s disease (PD)). No significant differences in discomfort or simulator sickness were observed across the groups. All groups had reduced stress, and PD patients had increased arousal after exposure. “This provides systematic evidence supporting the safety of immersive VR for gait training in these populations,” the authors conclude.

Kim A, Darakjian N, Finley JM. Walking in fully immersive virtual environments: an evaluation of potential adverse effects in older adults and individuals with Parkinson’s disease. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2017;14:1-12.

Applications of Virtual Reality GIS in Personal, Public and Environmental Health

From VR Medicine News-A new review of virtual and augmented reality geospatial information software (GIS) offers a look into recent advances in tackling public and environmental health problems. The use of this technology has improved user experiences from urban planning and emergency training to immersive games such as Pokémon Go. The review also discusses important technical features and issues underlying these solutions.

Kamel Boulos MN, Lu Z, Guerrero P, Jennett C, Steed A. From urban planning and emergency training to Pokémon Go: applications of virtual reality GIS (VRGIS) and augmented reality GIS (ARGIS) in personal, public and environmental health. Int J Health Geogr. 2017;16:1-11.

VR in Mental Health — A Review Article.

A free full text article in Frontiers in Psychiatry reviews serious games and gamification as they apply to mental health. The authors discuss 6 major categories: exergames, virtual reality, cognitive behavior therapy-based games, entertainment games, biofeedback, and cognitive training games.

Fleming TM, Bavin L, Stasiak K, et al. Serious Games and Gamification for Mental Health: Current Status and Promising Directions. Front Psychiatry. 2017 Jan 10;7:215. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00215.