VR Used to Create an Out of Body Experience

By VR Medicine News — Researchers at the University of Barcelona in Spain are using virtual reality (VR) to help a person see their own life size body and experience an out of body experience (OBE). With real-time motion capture, the virtual body can be programmed to move synchronously with the real body, termed as visuomotor synchrony. In addition, virtual objects seen to strike the virtual body can be felt through corresponding vibrotactile stimulation on the actual body, known as visuotactile synchrony. According to the researchers, visuomotor and visuotactile synchrony encourages the participant to think the body is actually their own. When the viewpoint is lifted up and out of the virtual body so that it is seen below this can translate into an OBE. In two groups of 16 women, one group experienced the use of visuomotor and visuotactile synchrony. The other group experienced no connection once the viewpoint was out of the virtual body. Fear of death in the in the control group, which felt no connection, was found to be higher than in the group that experienced the OBE with visuomotor and visuotactile synchrony. According to the researchers, these findings support that concept that naturally occurring OBEs are often associated with an enhanced belief in life after death. Why it’s relevant: The use of visuomotor and visuotactile synchrony could be used in many other applications to enhance the sense of reality experienced in VR.

Bourdin P, Barberia I, Oliva R, Slater M. PLoS One. 2017 Jan 9;12(1):e0169343. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169343.

VR Reduces Costs of Medical Military Training

By VR Medicine News–The British Armed Forces is testing the use of VR to train emergency response personnel teams (Medical Emergency Response Teams [MERTs] comprising trauma consultants, paramedics and nurses) who are deployed during combat. The use of mixed reality may help eliminate the use of expensive helicopters in this training and enable reconstruction of operational contexts where personnel can be trained effectively. Why it’s relevant:  VR may dramatically reduce costs of training in certain settings.

Stone RJ, Guest R, Mahoney P, Lamb D, Gibson C. A ‘mixed reality’ simulator concept for future Medical Emergency Response Team training. J R Army Med Corps. 2017 Jan 6. pii: jramc-2016-000726. doi: 10.1136/jramc-2016-000726. [Epub ahead of print]

VR Facilitates Learning Lab in Users’ Home

Article published here. Brown Technical Media Corp, a producer of online learning is introducing virtual reality environment (VRE) based training into their HVAC training (heating and air).  According to the press release, “The e-learning course will be highlighted by a 3D virtual reality section of the course that will allow students to experience the lab in their home. This course will be the first of its kind in the HVAC vocational eLearning space.” Why it’s relevant: This model, one of the first, has dramatic implications for all types of educational programs, including in medicine.

VR Enables Brain Walk Through

Article originally published in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. By patching together MRI images of a human brain, Canadian technology company Sprockety has enabled a VR walk through of the brain. Why it’s relevant: Much easier to learn about the complex anatomy of the brain through a walk through rather than looking at 2D images. Implications for medical education.

Pediatric Cardiologist Uses VR to Assess Cardiac Structures

Article originally published in the Peoria Journal Star. Pediatric cardiologist, Mark Plunkett used an experimental virtual reality platform to assess two patients’ cases: one a congenital heart defect that has since been surgically repaired, and the other a complicated case of a child who never developed the arteries that carry blood to her lungs. Why it’s relevant: A demonstration of how VR can be used for more effective imaging, greatly advancing what’s possible with current mainstream methods.