To get a closer look at an archeological dig or to take a trip to Mars, visit the immersive experiences on IEEE Transmitter. There you can learn about the many applications of augmented and virtual reality, including how they’re being used for health care.
In the video below, IEEE Member Marcelo Zuffo shows how his team turns archeological digs and ancient artifacts into virtual experiences. Zuffo, a professor in the electronics systems engineering department at the University of São Paolo, is working on cyber-archaeology research, a discipline that combines archeology, computer science, engineering, and the natural sciences.
When you’re done in Brazil, you can explore the Mars terrain. Researchers are using VR to help them plan routes for the Curiosity rover, which is exploring Mars’ Gale crater. They rely on 2D panoramic images taken by the rover to reconstruct the surface of the planet in a virtual environment. And astronauts are using VR to prepare for their trip to space.
VR-based exposure therapy is being tested to assess and treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The procedure was developed at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), in Los Angeles. The idea is that VR therapy can help patients process their emotions and improve their conditions by immersing them in controlled environments to better cope with everyday situations. A military veteran might use it to expose himself to the sights and sounds of a war zone, for example. The more the veteran becomes accustomed to the virtual stimuli of gunfire and explosions in a safe environment, the better he can respond to similar sounds such as car horns and firecrackers.
The project is being led by IEEE Member Todd Richmond, director of the ICT’s advanced prototype development. ICT VR-exposure therapy is now offered at more than 60 locations including U.S. Veterans Health Administration hospitals, military bases, and university centers. According to the ICT website, younger military personnel might be more comfortable with a VR treatment approach than with traditional talk therapy.
GETTING TO KNOW VIRTUAL WORLDS
Beyond the immersive experiences, IEEE Transmitter has published several articles on AR and VR. In an interview, IEEE Member Anderson Maciel discusses health-care applications such as simulated surgeries. A professor in graphics, visualization, and interaction at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Maciel is working on AR interfaces to give surgeons X-ray vision, which could help them better guide a catheter, endoscope, or needle to a specific area.
Another article covers a Qualcomm VR training tool that helps doctors diagnose strokes by teaching them to identify symptoms.
One important factor in making AR and VR technologies more accessible is to ensure they’re more affordable. This article on low-cost headsets, like Google Cardboard, explains their benefits.
Another factor in getting people to adopt the technologies is to make the devices easier to use. Hand-gesture interaction is making it possible to walk around in a virtual world instead of sitting in one spot—which makes the experience more immersive and can help reduce motion sickness.