Virtual Reality for Mental Health – A Viable Solution

Virtual Reality for Mental Health – A Viable Solution

Mental health awareness means creating a world of empathy and coping with the stigma associated with it. Half the goal of this mission is achieved when the society accepts mental illness as real as physical illness. The other half is dealing with the problem and being sensitive towards the patients. We need to acknowledge mental illness, talk it out, and find solutions. Interestingly, Virtual Reality has come up as an approachable and novel method for treating types of mental health concerns. It has emerged as a viable solution for healing general stress, anxiety, tremors and phobias, depression and related disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The technology has been tested in secured and controlled environments in the form of virtual reality exposure therapy – VRET. With the prominence of VR headsets like HTC Vive, Microsoft Hololens, and VRXOne, the testing has become affordable and convenient. The scenario is far better than the mid-1990s when a head-mounted display rig would cost over $50,000. VRET has given a pragmatic direction to Telemedicine, which in turn opens doors to better healthcare conditions in rural and remote areas. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy are two prominent psychotherapeutic treatments for mental health. Under CBT, the patient attends a series of sessions where the target is to find the cause of disorder by analyzing the thought pattern of the patient and peeping into the history of phobia. The behavior of patient under challenging situations is recorded from which the source of their beliefs and notions is traced. For instance, if a patient is afraid of height, they will avoid climbing tall buildings. If they are insecure, they will avoid social gatherings. Calling them unsocial would not be a solution. It will only exacerbate the situation. CBT gives as a medium of tackling these situations and overcoming them. Exposure Therapy (ET), as the name suggests, is a treatment where the patient is exposed to such challenging situations and is gradually impelled to face them. In the real world, the exposure therapy requires extensive care and safety measures, thus making it nonviable in many situations like emulating a war zone, a crowded area, or a free fall! Also, ET goes hand in hand with CBT and is an obligatory part of it. Different kinds of health issues call for different CBTs and ETs. Another enterprise has come up with the concept of artificially intelligent virtual patients. Patients can open up to these virtual assistants whom they often trust more than doctors. Overcoming the fear of judgment, patients are able to get rid of social awkwardness. The physicians can then conduct clinical interviews and diagnostic assessments on these avatars. Facing a situation in a real therapy can be off-putting for many because the patients are usually reticent and sometimes unable to explain their behaviors. Another application of VR involves operationalizing the technology by training autistic patients and helping them gain necessary social skills. In tackling the persecutory delusions like in psychosis, VR has come out as successful again.

A Worthwhile Story Upholding The Power of Virtual Reality

Mel Slater, a professor of virtual environments shares an interesting story. “I was in one session where the guy had such a fear of public speaking that he told us about speaking at his daughter’s wedding. When we asked, ‘How old is your daughter?’, he said, ‘Three!’ He was later asked to speak in front of a virtual audience. Initially, he resisted, ‘I can’t do this, I’m turning bright red, my voice is an octave higher.’ The psychologist urged him to give it a shot and later played his video-recording asking, ‘Is your face red? No. Are you speaking an octave higher than normal? No.’ What Slater did in one afternoon would have taken 12 weeks otherwise. The result was warm and welcomed. The relevance of VR was also proven by the creation of ‘avatars’ to cope with anxiety and depression. The logic behind this simulation is rather interesting and a tad-bit twisted. The therapy happens in two stages. First of all, an avatar is created that embodies the patient who explains his problems to the psychiatrist in the therapy session. The avatar looks similar to the person and responds like him. In the next therapy session, an avatar is created of the psychiatrist and the patient embodies it. Now the psychiatrist’s avatar, maneuvered by the patient, talks to the patient’s avatar. So technically, it is the patient talking to himself. Switching roles and helping oneself – that’s the underlying idea. Why, you ask? Because we are generally too harsh and critical of ourselves. Through the virtual therapy, the patient is able to realize the problem and immerse oneself to find a solution. Here, the technology helps in the most impactful yet smooth way. Do we need to open up more about health issues? It’s a no-brainer. Of course, we do. Virtual Reality gives a chance to embrace and uplift people. We seem to have found a viable solution for improving mental health.  

Augmented Reality in Healthcare – A Technology that is Pro-‘Life’

Augmented Reality in Healthcare – A Technology that is Pro-‘Life’

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are two closely knit terms. Well, both the technologies are surprisingly identical. However, a big difference lies in the way simulations are created. Here, will discuss these technologies from the healthcare perspective. 

 

VR is a potentially new world, AR is a tool. Both satisfy a human’s quest for immersion. You might have a big mobile screen, a much bigger television, but you’ll still fall for the grandeur and majestic experiences of Augmented Reality. Move over the 2-D visuals or 3-D graphics, here is a technology that helps you view more in your surroundings.

 

Besides being a technology that fascinates, it is lifesaving!

 

Through Augmented Reality, the users are deeply rooted in the real life, and, simultaneously, they can access the far-fetched information. That is where the future of Augmented Reality (AR) in healthcare finds scope. The technology is building its route for prophylactic, therapeutic, or cosmetic applications.

 

One transformative example of AR applications is in breast surgery. Breast augmentation is the most prominent cosmetic surgeries performed that help enhance an individual’s confidence. These surgeries make the breasts larger, firmer and more fuller. The journey for breast enlargement where your morale transforms from under confident to confident helps one embrace their body.

 

An adept cosmetic surgeon must match the expectations of the patient and Augmented Reality extends a helping hand in guaranteeing the same. In order that the patients gain maximum satisfaction out of their surgery and explain their requirements clearly, the AR technology helps them to preview their breast shape before getting under the knife. This helps the physician and the patient be on the same page and achieve the motive of the process – embracing oneself.

 

Dr. Kyle Song, a renowned cosmetic surgeon in the USA confirms that his surgery success rates have grown up to 90% with the patients being satisfied after the procedure, all because they can foresee themselves and explain their anxieties in real time via AR. The patients can walk through a real-time demo and be sure of their decisions, he adds.

 

In a similar manner, live simulation and 3D experiences help patients make the most out of their dental visits. The dynamic AR technology in the dental world helps the patients foresee their improved self where they have the perfect set of teeth and a flawless smile, who would not want to flaunt a perfect Julia Roberts smile?

The technology in healthcare helps the patients, doctors, and lab technicians to work in sync and make the best-suited dentures. The patient also gets to try out different sets in the simulated set-up. An individual finding it hard to decide whether or not to opt for a makeover can preview himself with a shining white pair of teeth and can overcome his moral impediments.

 

Another department of health care that AR is improving is ophthalmology. Oftentimes, while visiting an optometrist, patients find it difficult to explain their disorders. There are some who exaggerate and some who disparage their problems. Without apt diagnosis, the healing process might take longer. A new augmented reality application helps the doctors show the patients different optical disorders through simulation and identify the disorder.

 

The technology also improves the assistance methods about how the nurses attend patients. There is a constant challenge faced by both when the intravenous injections are not inserted properly. To combat this problem, came an invention of accurately finding the veins by means of augmented reality. A handheld scanner applied on the skin highlights the vein that multiplies the chances of injecting the syringe in the right vein.

 

Apart from these innovations, Augmented Reality also helps in motivating people to run. There is this technology in healthcare that creates a simulated environment making the user feel as if a zombie were following him, instinctively persuading him to run. It is recreational and motivational, both in a way, are you ready to ready to try it?

 

Another technology where AR in healthcare is being put to use is an application that can help the patients requiring emergency help. The automated external defibrillators or AEDs are set up by the users which can be detected by the application. People using the app can navigate and identify those near to them, requiring medical help. Thus, a crucial information delivered in minutes and a life is saved!

Understanding prescriptions, providing assistance in surgeries, studying anatomy, or using contact lenses, well, Augmented Reality in Healthcare holds the supremacy of escalating the user experience in every facet.

 

A trauma surgeon and associate professor at the University of Maryland, Sarah Murthi gave her views about AR in healthcare, “People don’t like their doctor to look at computers. It’s better for patients if somebody’s looking at you.” About the technology, she also says, “I think ultimately all of us hope that this will bring back more of the humanitarian component to the patient-physician relationship.”

 

Michael Aratow, the Chief Medical Information Officer of San Mateo Medical Center believed that augmented reality is playing a huge role in the medical field, and some of these examples of medical AR were fascinating.

 

Dr. Sana Farid, the Co-Founder of a Bahrain based Learning & Development company, Munfarid says, “Augmented Reality in healthcare gives the patients an option to choose the best services through comparison. With quick and easy treatments, it is possible to offer value based medical care.”

 

Perhaps augmented reality is one of the rarest innovations for doctors and patients, both. There’s huge potential.

Next Generation Standalone Device: Lenovo Mirage Solo – ‘No Strings Attached’

Next Generation Standalone Device: Lenovo Mirage Solo – ‘No Strings Attached’

Presented as a complete VR learning solution, Lenovo Mirage Solo™ is raising the bar by adding an aesthetic and intelligent appeal to the Virtual Reality technology.

 

So what gives this device an extra edge over the other VR products?

Well, its flair can be attributed to the utility and convenience it comes with.

 

The new model by Lenovo is a self-contained bundle that does not require connectivity with a PC or a mobile phone to work. It is a standalone device that uses Google’s powerful WorldSense™ technology which allows it to lean, dodge, duck, move, avoid obstacles, offering interactive virtual reality experiences. The headset device gives an incredible 110-degree field of view and is claimed to present an ‘evolved’ version of VR. The device comes with a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, quite smart on the specifications.

 

Besides the headset, the bundle comprises a Lenovo Tab 4 PLUS 10” tablet which gives autonomy to the teachers to maneuver the VR experiences to control the VR sessions in class. The wireless touchscreen helps them choose the expeditions and discuss the customized lessons.

 

Every component of the kit makes this Lenovo standalone device a next-generation wearable device.

 

The robust array of apps and games available in a smartphone (which can be strapped to a headgear) has built enough fascination for VR technology. However, the provision of these features in Mirage, without the need of a supporting device, makes VR more realistic. Especially for education!

 

The blended learning environment delivering content-rich experiences can find great use in the Middle East economy. The education capacity and enrollment are growing in the region, which is also emerging in the use of ARVR in the classroom.

 

The IDC (International Data Corporation) report expects the Middle East and Africa market for augmented and virtual reality is likely to grow to $6 billion by 2020. Heads of states, innovators, academic influencers, and passionate teachers are taking steps to highlight the importance of tech-based economy.

 

In the wake of the burgeoning curiosity and passion for technology, ARVR conferences, developers’ meet-ups, and awareness drives are being conducted.

 

VRXOne, the Google Expeditions Middle East partner, has also launched the acclaimed Immersive Learning for School program in the region, taking a giant leap into VR. Distinguished for its reach and impact, the awareness drive is the biggest and most significant VR education program in ME. The program entitles 1 million expeditions to students in the Middle East schools. This gives an opportunity for scores of school children and teachers to realize the impact of VR in pedagogy.

 

Besides Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality is another highly beneficial and prospective technology and VRXOne is spreading awareness in the region about the newly launched AR Expeditions by Google.

 

There is a horde of new interesting features that AR expeditions offer.

The first amazing feature is the ability to draw the attention of the class towards a point of observation. The teacher can use the ‘spotlight feature’ to highlight the part of the object that is to be seen by the students. This spotlight may be a pinpoint or a floodlight.

 

Another spectacular feature is the ability to resize objects. Since different classrooms have different available spaces, there should ideally be an option to change the size of the object under observation – and Google offers just that. The teacher can resize instantly and the change will be propagated to all the connected student devices.

 

The next highlight of expeditions AR is that users can put down up to eight different objects around the space and the object will stand right on top of those physical markers (marked with different colors). The kids can view the same object with the same point of reference. The physical markers are a good method of giving the students a common point of reference.

 

The Solo Mode in AR is similar to VR and allows the students to read the explanatory information. So while the teacher is not around and the mode is activated, a note will pop up on the device screen, allowing the students the autonomy to independently explore.

 

A beautiful new AI and the holistic fun content make both – VR and AR expeditions a win.

Google Expeditions Field Trip App Now Brings AR Tours, 100+ Lessons Available

Google Expeditions AR is here – a news of delight for AR aficionados.

Exactly one year ago, Google in its developers’ conference, IO 2017 had announced the launch of expeditions in Augmented Reality.

After 12 months of developments, testing, and improvements, Google has finally included the AR tech in its Google expeditions application. During this time, the developers at Google partnered with EdTech experts, teachers and students in different schools, taking their advice and feedback to perform the beta testing of this revolutionary technological advance.

The testing was carried under the AR pioneer program where over 1 million students participated enthusiastically.

So what if you are already using expeditions VR at your school?

Isn’t that enough immersion and/or insight?

Should you be excited?

Here’s a simple answer.

Decades ago, we used to have log tables to simplify and drastically speed up computation. Then came the calculators which simplified the process of understanding and reaching the results exponentially.

The technology behind a calculator and AR is poles apart.

However, they’re alike in a sense – they both make education easier.

So when a student embarks on a journey through Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, he dons a VR headset and looks around to feel the immersion.

It doesn’t matter whether he is a water enthusiast or not, he will be fascinated with the underwater journey along the largest living structure on the planet and one of the natural wonders of the world. Plunging into the awe-inspiring coral reef environment and meeting its fascinating marine creatures – and that too as a part of a classroom lesson – indeed ‘educating’.

Interestingly, through the window of AR, he can do more.

He can bring the corals to his classroom & pan at them closely.

Yes, Augmented Reality!

While Virtual Reality takes you anywhere, Augmented Reality brings you anything.

Imagine a family of corals gliding on your table?

Or maybe – some DNA strands scattered on the floor, where one can really get their comprehensive view. Even though the full-form is complicated, studying them won’t be.

Now that is wondrous.

 

So practically, now Google can take you to the world and also bring the world into the classroom. How cool is that!

The expeditions application which already has 6 million downloads and enlists 800+ VR expedition lessons, now has AR expeditions on the iOS and Android apps.

About 100+ available expeditions span from the topics of biology like RNA and DRA to significant concepts of physics like electromagnetism.

To experience the all round, panoramic view of AR, one needs ARCore or an ARKit-compatible phone.

Google Summit at Kent College, Dubai Focusses on ‘Learn by Doing’

Google Summit at Kent College, Dubai Focusses on ‘Learn by Doing’

Apps Events, Dubai on Friday (May 11) and Saturday (May 12) welcomed educators, leaders and IT, administrators, to engage in a thoughtful conversation on the latest developments and updates pertaining to education at Google Summit. The session held at the Kent College, Dubai saw keen attendees, given the past reputation of the Apps Event’s success. Deep diving dives into many of the Google tools have been a great USP of these events.

The session was graced by the leaders in the Google for Education community had a lot to look out for.

The conference, eagerly awaited by tech aficionados around the world, kicked off with an inspiring keynote on the Day 1 by Rania Hadi, the Head of Google Education MENA. She took the stage to showcase the latest developments in the pursuit of better education at Google. Her talk was briefly yet deeply centered around what goes at the heart of Google that makes it work.

What followed was a chain of talks, experience sharing, and practical insights from teachers, technology evangelists and also by the Director of AppsEvents, Dan Taylor. His talk was a guided lesson to how, by using ‘core suite’ and other ‘non-core’ Google Apps, a school could be transformed to a Google school, starting from the basics and taking the penetration to a higher level.

Talks were delivered highlighting the benefits of G Suite, Google Slides, Chromebooks and elucidating the other lesser-known benefits to both students and teachers.

A special coverage of Virtual Reality Google Expeditions was observed as the prominent regional AR VR researcher and trainer, Dr. Sana Farid enlightened the fellow attendees on the benefits of Google Expeditions. Dr. Sana envisions, strategizes and streamlines Ai/AR/VR based programs in education to improve the learning experience in students. Her regional experience and in-depth understanding of reality technology have led to her being noted in the list of Top 101 Women in #ARVR 2017, winning her global acclaim.

Through her talk, Dr. Sana explained the workability of VR expeditions and how they can be easily implemented in classrooms to cater to individual student needs. Accounts of how Google expeditions could exponentially boost retention and decrease distraction from learning was the tipping point of the talk.

Another high note of the event was seeing pupils from the Kent College Dubai creating their own Google Classroom in real time, as well as other software from G Suite for Education.

Google Summit, on the whole, laid a strong pavement for a beginner’s understanding of Google’s education tools as well as allowed crossover of important exchange of views of the preeminent leaders, regional and global.

The premier Google Summit partners of the event were Acer and Intel.