Virtual reality promises to be great for gamers, but it has a lot of potential to change the world in other ways. Shauna Heller saw that potential, so she quit her job at Oculus VR and became a consultant to make non-VR applications happen. And one of her projects was create a VR simulation that trains doctors how to treat infants in emergencies.
Heller pulled together a team of developers and technologists and matched them with surgeons at the Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles. Together, they made a VR simulation that helps doctors in training to save infants who have suffered some kind of seizure or anaphylactic shock.
They worked with the consumer-grade Oculus Rift + Touch. The project began in early 2016 and went through two prototyping developments. The team delivered a working model in early 2017 and the development and medical teams will continue to monitor and enhance the virtual world as more users learn with it. About 18 developers worked on it.
“This is a really important part of VR,” said Heller, executive director on the project and former developer relations liaison for non-game projects at Oculus. “It takes a game technology and enables it to be used for training in the medical space, where children’s lives on the line.”
Facebook’s Oculus VR division, maker of the Oculus Rift VR headset, funded the project. It is one of a number of projects that the company calls “VR for good,” and in the long run, such projects could bring home the real value of VR to society.
Heller was one of the original members of the Oculus team. But she wasn’t as passionate about games as she was about other uses for VR. As a consultant, she got a tip from Oculus about an idea to improve healthcare education with the immersive power of VR. Heller enlisted the help of AiSolve and VR developer BioflightVR. Both companies had done medical simulations before, and so they knew how to talk to the doctors at the hospital.
BioflightVR was founded by Hollywood visual effects wizards from the CBS show CSI. They wanted to put their skills to work with more social impact. Fortunately, they could understand medical terms that the doctors used, Heller said.
“BioflightVR was tasked with helping realize a grand vision—what the future of medical training could look like,” said Rik Shorten, chief creative officer and cofounder. “I can’t think of a better use for our team’s talents then helping doctors and residents learn and train using these dynamic new technologies.”
United Kingdom-based AiSolve is a immersive training and simulation company that developed a proprietary A.I. framework to create VR content. Together, the two companies worked closely with the hospital, even to the point of scanning in the images of real nurses.
The doctors conceived the scenarios. A team of…