Featured Post

Asking Big Questions About Brain Injuries with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Sports Medicine Division

In collaboration with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Division of Sports Medicine, the UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research helped develop virtual reality soccer scenarios featured in a new video explaining research being conducted with area high schools.

The long-term goal of the 5 year NIH funded study “Real-Time Sensorimotor Feedback for Injury Prevention Assessed in Virtual Reality,” (1U01AR067997-01A1) is to reduce ACL injuries in young female athletes.  This collaborative research project with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is one example of UCSIM’s commitment to help researchers solve urgent real-world problems in safe virtual spaces, unleashing the potential for scientific discovery, innovation, and creative play with immersive technologies.

To learn more about UCSIM’s work with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, see the project page in our list of Current Projects.

UCSIM Team photo

UCSIM Featured in #InTheKnow Newsletter

ucsim-team_banner_virtual-campus-2016

The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research was recently featured in the UCIT Staff Council’s March #InTheKnow Newsletter.  The newsletter will begin profiling teams and groups within the University of Cincinnati Information Technologies (UCIT) department to encourage a broader understanding of the diverse range of services the department provides.

See the full March #InTheKnow newsletter here!

tower defence game in development

Research Project: Distance Perception Eye Accommodation Detection Using Variable Distance Virtual Software

The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research is excited to collaborate with Dr. Joseph Clark in the UC Athletics – Baseball department on a new project.  The UC Athletics Department has requested development of prototype research software to measure distance perception eye accommodation in student athletes and collect preliminary data in preparation to solicit funding for further research and development.  The goal of the research project is to determine baseline distance perception performance and ultimately improve athletic performance outcomes. 

For more information, visit the project page.

Screenshot "Virtual Counselor" Cognitive Support System

“Virtual Counselor” Cognitive Support System

The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research recently partnered with Dr. George Richardson in the CECH-Human Services department on a funding proposal that was awarded to develop a working prototype “Virtual Counselor” Cognitive Support System mobile application.

The Virtual Counselor (VC) is a novel computer program that enables users to achieve behavioral change by providing experiential learning via realistic simulations that engage users in cost-effective and safe virtual environments. The VC stands apart from existing computer-based educational and treatment applications because it is content-neutral and applicable to a very broad range of health-relevant behaviors. In addition, the VC outputs graphical depictions of client cognition that can enhance client-professional counselor communication and inform clinical decisions.

For more information, see the project page.

Research Project: Virtual Reality Application for Game Theory, Towers of Hanoi, & Prisoner’s Dilemma Study

The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research is excited to start a new collaborative project with Dr. Jaime Windeler and Dr. Andrew Harrison in the Lindner College of Business.  The Virtual Reality Application for Game Theory, Towers of Hanoi, & Prisoner’s Dilemma Study project will allow study participants to perform game theory tasks (Towers of Hanoi and Prisoner’s Dilemma with Punishment Rounds) as part of their ongoing research about economic decision-making.  The purpose of this phase of the study is to measure the effects of fully immersive virtual reality on decision-making.

UCSIM will develop a prototype virtual reality application with game theory exercises for study participants, including a Tower of Hanoi scenario for cooperative play, and a Prisoner’s Dilemma with Punishment Rounds scenario.  The Prisoner’s Dilemma game will feature six (6) rounds where players decide how many tokens to contribute to a group pool, and how many tokens to punish other players for not contributing to the group pool.

For more information, visit the project page.

Virtual Reality as a Powerful Tool in Medicine

Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) is one of the most important applications of Virtual Reality (VR) and Simulation technology. VR has proven to be an efficient tool due to the ability of a computer to provide visuals, sound, and in some cases other sensory information such as touch, which replicates a physical situation as closely as possible, but only in a virtual sense.

For example, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can be treated with VRT. It is a disorder that occurs when an individual experiences traumatizing situations which embeds a feeling of powerlessness and horror in the individual. Through VR, more than 70% of soldiers who were suffering from PTSD after the Iraq war have seen improvements. Similar results are obtained from the use of VR in Computerized CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) where at a research level, several mental disorders have been diagnosed accurately and treatment has been prescribed.

With the advent of new consumer level VR technology, such as the Oculus Rift and other HMD (Head Mounted Display) systems which provide the user with visual experiences that are very close to the real situations, and other peripheral developments to track movement and motion, it is now possible to provide all sorts of sensory information to the user for any given situation.

Using this computing capability to treat and help people suffering from perennial and genetic disorders such as Autism, Down’s Syndrome (DS) and other genetic disorders is a new area of exploration for using VR in medicine and treatment. Currently children suffering from such genetic disorders are given special training by qualified and dedicated teachers and parents who work in co-operation with them day and night in order to provide assistance in dealing with real life situations. However, there are limitations to this method of teaching which may be augmented by including VR based teaching with human assisted training.

The use of Virtual Reality to tackle this issue has a great future from both a medical and business perspective. The power of computing and providing sensory information is the key to making this technology possible. Researchers at the University of Haifa, Israel have made excellent studies on the use of VR to treat Autism. Their collaboration with MERL’s Diamond Touch (DT) hardware, a multitouch interface to assist learning, has been an extremely powerful tool in improving communication and social skills along with improving academic and functional abilities.

Another similar situation is in simulating traffic signals and road crossing scenarios which cannot be implemented in reality due to the inherent danger of the scenario, but in a virtual reality situation, those suffering from anxiety can receive treatment in safety. This research performed at the University of Haifa has been extremely effective in treating children suffering from Autism.

Although using VR for treatment of such disorders is becoming more accepted, the idea of further research and developing this technology to a consumer level product which enables best treatment techniques from one part of the world to be available to every individual suffering from this disorder is still in its infancy. The use of any technology is judged by its potential to influence and change humanity, and the ultimate goal of many VR researchers is to move beyond gaming services to develop technologies that can change individuals’ lives and help them become better, more capable and healthy people.

autism-story-blueroom1

References

Delavarian, Mona; Afrooz, G Ali and Gharibzadeh, Shahriar, “Virtual Reality and Down Syndrome Rehabilitation.” The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 24:2, Spring 2012

Josman, Naomi; Ben-Chaim, Hadass Milika; Friedrich, Shula;Weiss, Patrice L, “Effectiveness of Virtual Reality for Teaching Street-Crossing Skills to Children and Adolescents with Autism”, International Journal of Disability Development and Education (Impact Factor: 0.59). ;7(1):49-56; 01/2008;.

“Virtual reality treatment for autism.” Virtual reality blog.  Retrieved 17 Aug. 2014. <http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality-healthcare/autism-treatment.html>

Gal, Eynat; Bauminger, Nirit; Goren-Bar,Dina; Pianesi, Fabio; Stock, Oliviero; Zancanaro, Massimo; Weiss, Patrice L. (Tamar), ” Enhancing social communication of children with high functioning autism through a co-located interface”, AI and Society, the Journal of Human-Centred Systems. ; Vol 24; 01:2009.

Image Credits

Blue Room ISV;

Marc Ambasna-Jones; Virtual Reality Addresses UK Kids’ Autism and Phobias; web page IDG Connect; July 08, 2014 <http://www.idgconnect.com/abstract/8509/virtual-reality-addresses-uk-kids-autism-phobias>

 

Second Life

The University of Cincinnati Second Life Campus is available for faculty, students, and staff who wish to explore the affordances of public virtual worlds like Second Life for teaching, learning, and research.  To use UC’s Second Life campus, users must create an account through this website and NOT through the public Second Life website.

QuickLinks to Get Started

What is Second Life?

Second Life is a public virtual world, a new kind of 3D internet. Second Life combines the richness of the “flat” web with advanced simulation technology to create a seamless digital version of the real world – a world where you can create anything you can imagine, teach a class in an environment you design, or even fly to work instead of driving. In Second Life, you can meet with distant colleagues and students “face-to-face” through digital avatars, collaborate on a project as if you were in the same location, or develop a model or project plan together in real time.

Who Uses Second Life?

Second Life is being used widely by both the public and the private sector, including over 400 universities from around the world. Business and industry also use Second Life to rapidly prototype new products, train a global workforce, and market to consumers in new ways. Governments have established virtual embassies, outreach offices, and recruiting centers. In Ohio, the University of Cincinnati has taken a leadership role, collaborating with sixteen other colleges and universities in the state.

UC’s Virtual Campus in Second Life

The UC Second Life Project was established in 2006 as a pilot project to explore the feasibility of using the Second Life platform for teaching, learning, and research. By 2011, the project expanded to include 48 acres of virtual land with hundreds of faculty, students, and staff using Second Life for distance learning and traditional face-to-face courses, research projects, and delivering campus services in a virtual environment. Our team provides training, support, and development services so you can fully explore how Second Life might enhance your department’s outreach or research projects.

Reserve Space on the UC Second Life Campus

To establish a space on the University of Cincinnati’s virtual campus, select the appropriate plot size for your department, class, or research project, and then contact us to reserve your space.

Unity

Create realistic simulations or “serious games” for classroom or research purposes with Unity3D/JIBE.

Unity3D Scene

What is Unity3D?

Unity3D  is an integrated authoring tool for creating 3D video games or other interactive content such as architectural visualizations or real-time 3D animations. Unity is used to develop applications for a number of platforms. The platforms Unity can export to include HTML, PC, Mac OS, Iphone, Droid, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. 3D assets can be created within the Editor or imported if they were created with any industry standard 3d modeling program (Maya, Blender, Lightwave, Google Sketchup, 3D Studio Max).

What is JIBE?

Jibe is a multi-user 3D virtual world platform accessible via a web browser or standalone client. JIBE is a set of features developed for the Unity Editor that include the following qualities: customizable 3D avatars, private/public text chat, support for high user concurrency, Vivox voice integration, hooks for Augmented Reality/SCADA/robotics/telemetry applications, a built-in registration database, detailed logging of in world events and user tracking, and the ability to integrate with existing user databases like LDAP, Facebook Connect, LMS and CMS.

JIBE Architecture 
 

 Who Uses Unity3D/JIBE?

Unity 3D is used by the gaming industry and educational community. Unity can be used for simulations in a virtual world platform, to develop standard applications, and to make interactive 3D visualizations. Architects, industrial designers, and anyone in product development can use it as a way to visualize creations. Researchers and teachers use simulations and applications to demonstrate lessons. Computer scientists use Unity3D  for its object oriented programming capabilities using Java, Boo, or C#.

 Our Services with Unity3D/JIBE

Medical simulation screenshot

The UCSIM team can create a variety of virtual experiences, simulations, or “serious games” for your classroom or research project using the Unity3D/JIBE platform.  For example projects, see the demo links listed above under the Unity menu, or contact us for more information!