The Omni: Another Piece In The Consumer VR Puzzle

I have to say, it doesn’t get much more exciting in this field than what’s occurring from an equipment viewpoint over the next year. I’ve talked about the touchless Leap Motion interface already (it’s due to be released pretty soon) and then there’s the Oculus Rift as arguably the first high quality consumer VR headset. Both of these are likely to form part of my PhD research, but there’s a third piece of the puzzle that while unlikely to be used in my research, will fulfil a long term desire in regards to gaming.

It’s called the Omni and it looks like it’s going to bring an affordable human movement option. I’ve always loved the idea of being able to get fit from gaming, and the Omni may just pull that off if it achieves what it’s planning to.

 

Have a look for yourself and note that the headset is the Oculus Rift, not a component of the Omni:

The team are still currently raising funds – they were seeking 150K and close to 900K has been pledged, so there’s no shortage of interest. Check out the full details including some further videos here.

Latency and Virtual Reality – The Deeper Stuff

John Carmack created this, and set me on the road to gaming obsession

John Carmack created this, and set me on the road to gaming obsession

John Carmack is a bit of an icon in gaming circles, and he’s also one of the people that’s supporting the Oculus VR consumer headset that’s on the near horizon. I’d very stupidly assumed (having not read any biographical details on him until today) that he wasn’t that deep into the coding / science of things like this.

He’s just posted a nice piece of work on the challenges of latency in virtual reality. If you’re from a computer science background you’ll get a lot more out of it than I did, and even I could appreciate just how critical latency is in this sphere.

Latency is of course an important consideration anywhere but Carmack shows just how far we probably have to go to make VR headsets that give an accurate perception of real-time movement in physical space. It’ll happen of course – and I still want an Oculus now.

Papertab: Washable Computing?

papertabAn amazing piece of development by a public/private consortium. It’s an obvious evolution from tablet computing and although it obviously has a long way to go, the implications for virtual worlds-based education is obvious, particularly in the health field where hardy devices are needed that can easily be cleaned.

In 5 to 10 years I can see options like this achieving exactly that. If the price point ends up being reasonable, it’s also a great option at the pre-registration training level. Taking purely a virtual worlds perspective, if I can load up a good immersive simulation on something like the Papertab, hand it out to participants at the beginning of a session, walk them through the simulation and allow them to walk out with it, I have to be be making some inroads. That’s without the collaboration and interaction options already being shown between each Papertab. Of course, it’ll depend on how successfully the developers can move from the gray-scale version on offer now, but I’d imagine that’s a given over a period of years.

Have a look for yourself:

The full press release:

Cambridge, UK and Kingston, Canada – January 7, 2013 — Watch out tablet lovers — A flexible paper computer developed at Queen’s University in collaboration with Plastic Logic and Intel Labs will revolutionize the way people work with tablets and computers. The PaperTab tablet looks and feels just like a sheet of paper. However, it is fully interactive with a flexible, high-resolution 10.7″ plastic display developed by Plastic Logic, a flexible touchscreen, and powered by the second generation Intel® Core i5 processor. Instead of using several apps or windows on a single display, users have ten or more interactive displays or “papertabs”: one per app in use.

Ryan Brotman, research scientist at Intel elaborates “We are actively exploring disruptive user experiences. the ‘PaperTab’ project, developed by the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University and Plastic Logic, demonstrates innovative interactions powered by Intel core processors that could potentially delight tablet users in the future.”

“Using several PaperTabs makes it much easier to work with multiple documents,” says Roel Vertegaal, director of Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab. “Within five to ten years, most computers, from ultra-notebooks to tablets, will look and feel just like these sheets of printed color paper.”

“Plastic Logic’s flexible plastic displays are completely transformational in terms of product interaction. they allow a natural human interaction with electronic paper, being lighter, thinner and more robust compared with today’s standard glass-based displays. this is just one example of the innovative revolutionary design approaches enabled by flexible displays.” explains Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Plastic Logic.

What’s your take on this?

[via Stuff.tv]

2012 – Slow Progress

Just a quick note to say thank you for your ongoing support of this site. Updates have been much less frequent but for all the right reasons i.e. my PhD studies in the area are progressing, albeit slowly.

Most of 2012 has been spent getting a grasp of the literature around virtual worlds and clinical simulation. 2013 should see the full study design fleshed out and hopefully acceptance of my first journal paper.

Hopefully I’ll be updating this blog a little more often as I devote even more time to the area in the coming year.

Virtual Patient for Psychological Interventions

With thanks to Evelyn McElhinney, a fascinating piece on the use of virtual patients to mimic psychological disorder symptoms. This to me is some of the most critical aspects of virtual patients: the ability for nuanced psychological presence. It’s not only important for the mental health professions, but it’s also critical for truly immersive and accurate clinical simulations in a broader context. I’ll be watching this one closely.

The full press release on Dr Rizzo’s work:

New technology has led to the creation of virtual humans who can interact with therapists via a computer screen and realistically mimic the symptoms of a patient with clinical psychological disorders, according to new research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

“As this technology continues to improve, it will have a significant impact on how clinical training is conducted in psychology and medicine,” said psychologist and virtual reality technology expert Albert “Skip” Rizzo, PhD, who demonstrated recent advancements in virtual reality for use in psychology.

Virtual humans can now be highly interactive, artificially intelligent and capable of carrying on a conversation with real humans, according to Rizzo, a research scientist at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. “This has set the stage for the ‘birth’ of intelligent virtual humans to be used in clinical training settings,” he said.

Rizzo showed videos of clinical psychiatry trainees engaging with virtual patients called “Justin” and “Justina.” Justin is a 16-year-old with a conduct disorder who is being forced by his family to participate in therapy. Justina, the second and more advanced iteration of this technology, is a sexual assault victim who was designed to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In an initial test, 15 psychiatry residents, of whom six were women, were asked to perform a 15-minute interaction with Justina. Video of one such interaction shows a resident taking an initial history by asking a variety of questions. Programmed with speech recognition software, Justina responds to the questions and the resident is able to make a preliminary diagnosis.

Rizzo’s virtual reality laboratory is working on the next generation of virtual patients using information from this and related user tests, and will further modify the characters for military clinical training, which the U.S. Department of Defense is funding, he said. Some future patients that are in development are virtual veterans with depression and suicidal thoughts, for use in training clinicians and other military personnel how to recognize the risk for suicide or violence.

In the long term, Rizzo said he hopes to create a comprehensive computer training module that has a diverse library of virtual patients with numerous “diagnoses” for use by psychiatric and psychology educators and trainees. Currently, psychology and psychiatry students are trained by role-playing with other students or their supervisors to gain experience to treat patients. They then engage in supervised on-the-job training with real patients to complete their degrees. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of live standardized ‘actor’ patients who are commonly used in medical programs, so we see this technology as offering a credible option for clinical psychology training,” he said. “What’s so useful about this technology is novice clinicians can gain exposure to the presentation of a variety of clinical conditions in a safe and effective environment before interacting with actual patients. In addition, virtual patients are more versatile and can be available anytime, anywhere. All you need is a computer.”

The press release also linked to some demonstration videos, so here they are for you:


Leap Motion: next generation motion sensing

I’ve watched the video below twice and will probably watch it a bunch more times. Leap Motion is described over at The Verge as:

The Leap uses a number of camera sensors to map out a workspace of sorts — it’s a 3D space in which you operate as you normally would, with almost none of the Kinect’s angle and distance restrictions. Currently the Leap uses VGA camera sensors, and the workspace is about three cubic feet; Holz told us that bigger, better sensors are the only thing required to make that number more like thirty feet, or three hundred. Leap’s device tracks all movement inside its force field, and is remarkably accurate, down to 0.01mm. It tracks your fingers individually, and knows the difference between your fingers and the pencil you’re holding between two of them.

Have a look for yourself and then consider answering a very obvious question below.

The obvious question with an even more obvious answer: how good would this technology be in a 3D simulation requiring demonstration of fine motor skills?

Human skin rendering at its best

As you probably know, this blog is very much focused on the use of virtual worlds in health. More specifically, because of my studies I’m professionally obsessed with their use as simulation environments. Hence my excitement when I saw this rather stunning video from Jorge Jimenez.

PHd student Jorge and his supervisor Diego Gutierrez from the University of Zaragosa, have completed some stunning work on rendering human skin. I’ll leave it there so you can have a look but want to ask one question: can you imagine what you could do having such level of detail in clinical simulations?

Thanks to NWN for the heads-up.

Nice coverage of virtual worlds and nursing simulation

For those less familiar with what’s going on in the virtual worlds and clinical simulation field, here’s a nice overview from an Australian viewpoint, published in the Sydney Morning Herald today:

http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/government-it/health-in-the-third-dimension-20120516-1ypwf.html

It’s great to see VastPark involved in the area, providing another option in a still fairly sparse marketplace. I’m seriously looking at Unity3D / Jibe as the basis for my research but I’ll also be taking a damn close look at Nursim as well.

As always, if you’re working in this area please let me know as I’d love to profile you.

Mental Health Symposium: Second Life

I received a message today from Alice Krueger (SL:Gentle Heron) at Virtual Ability Inc, about an upcoming symposium. Save April 28 as the date – there’s an amazing array of speakers and topics. You can read the schedule below or check out Virtual Ability’s blog.

The full details:

Our society too often takes mental health for granted and too frequently stigmatizes people with mental health issues. The Virtual Ability Mental Health Symposium 2012, on Saturday, April 28, offers a variety of perspectives for thinking positively about mental health.

Presentations will take place at various locations in Second Life.  The full schedule is posted below, and at www.virtualability.org/symposium2012.

Alice Krueger, president of Virtual Ability, Inc., notes, “A symposium is a formal meeting where individual presentations are followed by discussion. We intend these sessions to encourage audience participation with the presenters and especially with the content the presenters share. Mental health is too important a topic to ignore.”

SCHEDULE, PRESENTERS AND TOPICS

 

COGNITIVE REHABILITATION

PRESENTER: Dr. Tina Garcia

Saturday April 28, 2012, 8:00 am PDT

 

“VODKA AND SALIVA” FROM PAUL BROKS’INTO THE SILENT LAND

READER: Alice Krueger (Second Life Avatar: Gentle Heron)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 9:00 am PDT

Health & Wellness Pavilion, Healthinfo Island, Second Life

Gentle Heron will read aloud (with text) a chapter from Paul Broks’ book Into the Silent Land. This essay explores the nature of self-understanding. We will discuss the viewpoints presented, and think about how we view ourselves as individuals unique among all of humanity.

Author Information: Broks is a consultant in neuropsychology at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK. He was a runner-up for the Wellcome Trust Science Prize, and writes about his work as a neuropsychologist in magazines and newspapers as well as this book of essays.

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

 

PATHWAYS TO MENTAL HEALTH

PRESENTER: Frank Hannah (Second Life Avatar: Frederick Hansome)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 10:00 am PDT

Blue Orchid Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

This lecture introduces a concept of mental health that will probably be new to you. You will be able to use it to develop a rock-solid self concept, learn to make wise choices, accomplish more and improve your relationships.  This approach to optimum mental health helps prevent the mental and physical problems that may otherwise occur. Handicaps don’t count here: everyone can develop optimum mental health!

Presenter Bio:  Frank Hannah (SL avatar: Frederick Hansome) is a retired mental health counselor with over 20 years clinical experience in private practice. He holds a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Nova University (now NovaSoutheastern).

In SL, as the alt “Plato Greybeard”, Hannah moderated a philosophical discussion group for about 2 1/2 years at Plato’s Academy. He closed the Academy to use his SL time to promote mental health. Please visit his website: www.PathwaysToMentalHealth.com.

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

 

WHY VIRTUAL COUNSELING SHOULD BE VIEWED AS ADVANCED TELEMEDICINE

(Keynote Presentation)

PRESENTER:  Dick Dillon (Second Life Avatar: Coughran Mayo)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 11:00 am PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

We will discuss a variety of ways in which the characteristics of virtual world platforms, when used in the service of counseling, are not only as good as “real life,” but usually better.

Among the issues to be reviewed are “24/7 durability,” role plays and scene changes, and “I am my Avatar and my Avatar is me – or NOT”

Presenter Bio:  Dick Dillon has been in the mental health field for over 30 years in a variety of management and administrative positions. He recently left his position as Senior VP of Planning and Development for Preferred Family Healthcare to open his own consultation firm, Innovaision, LLC – dedicated to helping nonprofits realize the potential of using virtual worlds and other technologies.  Through his SL avatar, Coughran Mayo, Dillon has spent over 5 years actively involved in Second Life, working for the NonProfit Commons initiative and building and hosting the Preferred Family HC sim. He has made numerous presentations and been interviewed on Metanomics,  Rockcliffe University’s “Inside The Avatar Studio” program and other inworld news and issues programs.

Presented in voice, with text transcription.

 

COUNSELOR EDUCATION IN SECOND LIFE

PRESENTERS: Dr. Debra London and Dr. Marty Jencius

Saturday April 28, 2012, Noon PDT

 

THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF PTSD

PRESENTER:  Anya Ibor

Saturday April 28, 2012, 1:00 pm PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

The brain is an amazing organ. Injuries such as those which are associated with PTSD may never heal. But the brain is “plastic,” which means the functions damaged by the brain injury can be relearned by other parts of the brain.

Presenter Bio:  Anya Ibor is the Founder and Executive Director of Fearless Nation PTSD Support, a 501c3 NonProfit Organization dedicated to providing free public education, support and advocacy for the understanding of PTSD. Since 2009 Fearless Nation has provided a virtual therapeutic support group.

Presented in voice, with text transcription.

 

MENTAL HEALTH AND THE IMPORTANCE OF PEER SUPPORT

PRESENTER:  MermaidSue Bailey

Saturday April 28, 2012, 3:00 pm PDT

Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

MermaidSue Bailey will lead a discussion on the importance of peer support to good mental health.

Presenter Bio:  MermaidSue Bailey is facilitator of the self-help group “When Life Goes Out of Control,” which is in its second year now and becoming a useful weekly fixture for its increasing group of members, all of whom either have a disability themselves or a family disability which impacts on daily life.  In RL, Sue works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in the United Kingdom, in private practice and within the hospice movement. She has two teenage daughters and is a school governor.   In theory she doesn’t bring her professional life into Second Life, but experience in group therapy, as well as being a woman with a disability, gives her useful skills in facilitating more informal groups in virtual settings – but very much as a member of the group also in need of support from other people with disabilities.

Presented in text, with voice transcription.

 

MENTAL HEALTH ISN’T ALL MENTAL

PRESENTER: Roberto Salvatierra (Second Life Avatar: Roberto Salubrius)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 4:00 pm PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

Roberto was diagnosed with agoraphobia. He was unable to continue medical school, and became confined to his home. He will tell about his experiences, and what he learned about his health.

Presenter Bio:  Roberto Salvatierra, (SL avatar Roberto Salubrius), was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1975. He had a bilingual education, and since an early age he worked with computers. At age 19, he started having panic attacks, until it evolved to agoraphobia by the time he was 24. He went to Medical School, where he got a minor on medical sciences and was going for his degree as Medical Doctor until his agoraphobia caught up with him, short of finishing Medical School. Since then he has been working on Second Life as a full time programmer for his own company, Techno Kitty Development, and for co-owned animation company Medhue Animations. In his free time he does a lot of medical research, especially on Mental Health, Cardiology, Endocrinology and Dysautonomias.

Presented in text, with voice transcription.

 

MENTAL HEALTH AND MINORITY COMMUNITIES

PRESENTER:  DyVerse Jeffery-Steele

Saturday April 28, 2012, 5:00 pm PDT

Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

April is (US) National Minority Health Month. Minority communities face unique problems related to mental health.

Living in poverty has the most measurable effects on the rates of mental illness. Minorities are overrepresented among the lowest socioeconomic groups, and thus have higher rates of mental illness than do non-Hispanic whites. Racism and discrimination cause increased levels of stress, which can adversely affect mental health.

Presenter Bio:  DyVerse Jeffery-Steele is a peer support leader for chronic illness and the issues that arise from illness.  He has been a peer support leader in Second Life and in real life for HIV/AIDS and diabetes, and the mental health issues that come with those diseases.  A strong supporter and user of social media and virtual worlds for health support and education, DyVerse has an office on Health Commons island.

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

SimHealth 2012

Once again apologies for the infrequent updates to this site – my PhD studies are certainly dominating my time in regards to virtual worlds, which is as it should be.

I just thought I’d give a quick heads-up that I’ll be presenting a poster on the opportunities for inter-professional clinical simulation within virtual world environments at SimHealth 2012 in Sydney in September.

If you’re going to be there, I’d love to catch up for a chat.