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Posts Tagged ‘virtual reality’

Friday, October 6th, 2017

University of Melbourne physiotherapy students use augmented reality

From Pokémon GO to the classroom—how a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and Microsoft in AR is taking students under the skin of their patients.

Story by Andrew Trounson, University of Melbourne

Pokémon GO pushed augmented reality, or AR, into the mainstream, sending 500 million people around the world chasing cartoon characters on their phones. But now, in a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration, it’s making the leap from entertainment to education.

A new fusion of augmented reality, gaming technology, and anatomy is giving physiotherapy students at the University of Melbourne access to cutting-edge technology to take a look inside the human body by projecting different layers of muscles and bones over the top of a volunteer “patient.” It provides an inside view of how the body works as it moves in real time.

Melbourne physiotherapy students use augmented reality

Learn more about the Melbourne physiotherapy program

The technology, called the Augmented Studio, is designed to radically enhance the teaching of physiotherapy where students currently use their knowledge of anatomy to understand how muscles work beneath the skin of a patient because they can’t see through them. But the Augmented Studio, developed by researchers at the University of Melbourne, bridges the gap between that theory and practice.

By using tracking sensors mounted on a scaffold it projects images of our muscles and skeleton directly onto a volunteer. The images automatically follow the shape and movement of the body, giving students in the studio space an interactive all-round view of how our bodies work. It can even allow them and their teachers to “draw” on the projected image to make information and action more explicit.

“What we are doing is overlaying virtual models of what we look like underneath our skin and synchronising that with real human action,” says Dr Thuong Hoang, who is a Research Fellow at the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural Users Interfaces at the University of Melbourne.

The Augmented Studio was built by Dr Hoang, computer engineer Zaher Joukhadar and Phd student Martin Reinoso, who adapted Microsoft’s Kinect body sensing and tracking device as well as “RoomAlive” projection technology, both of which were originally designed for computer gaming. Once a person steps into the projection space and forms a T-shape with their arms outstretched, the trackers lock on to them and the projected image conforms to their shape and movement.

At the moment the projected overlay doesn’t show how our muscles actually move when we contract and relax our muscles. Instead, it tracks the body and movement at the joints. But eventually Dr Hoang wants to add in animation that can show the actual movement of muscles as the model moves.

University of Melbourne Physiotherapy lecturer Dr David Kelly says the students quickly embraced the technology during pilot sessions in 2016, which are continuing in 2017. He says the combination of live movement and interaction, in which students could actually move and feel the model’s limbs, helps them to grasp the relationship between their learned anatomy and how it works dynamically.

“For first-year students it can be really hard to bring together anatomical knowledge with how the body actually works because it can be difficult to visualise. But when they see a real person who they can interact with, while also seeing the muscles and skeleton projected over the top, combined with the ability to draw and write on the body, it all becomes much easier for the students to learn about how the body moves,” says Dr Kelly, from the Melbourne School of Health Sciences.

The Augmented Studio also provides a more visual and intuitive way of learning that Dr Kelly says will benefit those students who naturally learn more easily by direct visualisation, rather than through reading and listening. “There has always been a group of students that struggle because the limited ways in which we have to teach may not conform to how they learn best,” he says.

Developments in AR, which seeks to use technology to enhance what we can already see, hear and feel in the real world, are far ahead of chasing GPS tracked Pokémon. There are viewing devices such as glasses that can overlay what we see with three-dimensional graphics, video and holograms, and we can generate projections like games that people manipulate by moving our hands.

The big advantage of the Augmented Studio over advances like 3D holograms is that the students can actually touch and move the body, making it a much more interactive experience. They also don’t have to wear headgear, which means it could potentially be used in bigger settings with larger numbers of students.

“It has always been hard to capture the dynamic side of how our anatomy works, so the difference here is the high level of interaction you can achieve. The student can, for example, ask the model to kick and they can then look at variations from different angles at what is happening as someone kicks,” Dr Kelly says.

The Augmented Studio is still in early-stage development and Dr Kelly would love to see it migrate to using muscle animations. Dr Hoang is also working to develop a system for the student interaction with the model to be automatically recorded onto their tablets so they can have a permanent record of what they were learning.

Another challenge is to find a way to make the studio more transportable and quicker to set up. At the moment the studio can work very effectively in a dedicated tutorial space where it could be permanently set up, but Dr Kelly says a more portable set up would increase its flexibility for teaching.

The Augmented Studio is an extension of Dr Hoang’s earlier work exploring how virtual reality and body tracking could be used to help guide body movement for dance and marital arts students. Arising from a collaboration between the physiotherapy department’s Teaching and Learning director, Associate Professor Louisa Remedios and Professor Frank Vetere, Director of Microsoft Social NUI, Dr Hoang started working with the physiotherapy department on developing a teaching aid. He then realised that virtual reality, in which you are immersed in an entirely created world, wasn’t suited to teaching physiotherapy that is very hands on.

“When we got into the class rooms we had to change our thinking. VR just wouldn’t work in the tactile environment in which they learn and practice,” Dr Hoang says. It was when he noticed that students kept referring back to anatomy charts when they were practicing on each other that he started thinking of using augmented reality to put the virtual muscles on the body

Dr Hoang is now working on extending the tracked projection technology to various health and fitness areas, and even in performance art. He says that using tracking sensors with projections it is possible to create guides that show people how to position their bodies for practicing fitness, sport and dance.

Using virtual reality headsets he and PhD student Martin Reinoso have already developed a prototype that allows a martial arts teacher to remotely instruct students on the right position to hold. By using body tracking and linked headsets student can match their movement to align with those of their teacher. There is also scope to project information on our own body’s performance, such as heart rate and breathing, so it is visible either on our projected selves or on a nearby surface.

“The innovation we have created isn’t just limited to the fixed information that we have been projecting so far. If can be used to project dynamic information onto yourself or any surface around you,” Dr Hoang says. “All of what I’m dreaming of is very possible.”

About the Melbourne Doctor of Physiotherapy

Eligible University of Melbourne Physiotherapy candidates for admission will have completed undergraduate studies in human anatomy and human physiology at the university level. Other subjects which may be helpful for physiotherapy applicants include psychology, physics, biomechanics, research methods, evidence-based practice, statistics, biochemistry, and additional units of anatomy.

Program: Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT)
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Next available intake: February 2019
Duration: 3 years
Application deadline: TBA. For the 2018 intake, the application rounds closed June 1 and July 27, 2017.

Apply to the Melbourne Doctor of Physiotherapy Program!

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Would you like to learn more about the University of Melbourne Physiotherapy program ? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Physiotherapy Schools Admissions Officer Krista McVeigh at krista@oztrekk.com.

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Monash research team trials virtual reality to help children during medical procedures

Needle procedures, including intravenous cannulas and blood tests, can be extremely distressing for many children and can lead to lifelong anxiety.

Monash University and Monash Children’s Hospital researchers are conducting the world’s largest study of virtual reality headsets to improve the experience of children undergoing needle procedures.

Monash research team trialling virtual reality to help children during medical procedures

Dr Evelyn Chan, patient Nia Ashton and Dr Erin Mills (Photo: Monash University)

For the first time, a collaborative research team led by Monash University Research Fellow Dr Evelyn Chan, is investigating the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets to reduce fear, pain and anxiety associated with these procedures.

Dr Chan said current pain management techniques such as local anaesthetic cream or distraction were inadequate for some children, and may result in the need for restraints and/or sedation.

“The VR headsets distract children, allowing them to experience and interact with animated sea-life, including fish, dolphins and whales, while medical staff take blood or insert an intravenous cannula,” Dr Chan said.

The VR animations have been created to perfectly coincide with the procedures being carried out.

“Children ‘feel’ the water while a nurse or doctor prepares and cleans their hand, and fish gently bite at their hand while a needle is inserted,” Dr Chan said.

Principal Investigator at Monash Children’s Hospital, Dr Erin Mills, said VR allowed children to be transported into an engaging and interactive 3D ‘virtual world’ which provided an escape from the real world where the procedure was being performed.

“The virtual reality experience has been designed to be immersive, enjoyable and help relax and reassure the child while medical procedures are taking place,” Dr Mills said.

Dr Chan said their vision was for every child to have access to high quality needle pain management, anytime, anywhere—whether they were in a world-class kid’s hospital, a busy pathology clinic, or a remote GP practice.

“VR has huge potential to transform patient experiences. One day VR might become a cornerstone of patient care—helping support patients in every step of their health journey, from being able to walk through the operating room before their surgery, to supporting them through their hospital stay, and helping them during recovery with rehab and preventive health activities,” Dr Chan said.

Two-hundred-forty patients from the Pathology and the Emergency Departments at Monash Children’s Hospital are currently being recruited to the study. The Royal Children’s Hospital will open an arm of the study next month.

More than 30,000 patients presented to Monash Children’s Hospital Emergency Department in the last 12 months, with 4,500 requiring blood tests.

The Monash research team includes Dr Erin Mills, Associate Professor Simon Craig, Dr Simon Cohen, Emma Ramage, Samantha Foster, Ryan Sambell, Michael Hovenden, Dr Evelyn Chan, and Dr Paul Leong.

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Learn more about the new medical degree at Monash Medical School! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Team at courtney@oztrekk.com.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Bond University film graduates behind the scenes of Suicide Squad

A 2015 Bond University Film and Television graduate has made his mark on Hollywood after producing a world-first virtual reality (VR) experience for the new blockbuster film, Suicide Squad.

Bond University film graduates behind the scenes of Suicide Squad

Bond film and TV graduate Harrison Norris  (Photo credit: Bond University)

Harrison Norris worked with fellow Bond alumna, Emily Tate, on the set of the new action film starring Margot Robbie and Will Smith, where Norris worked as VR director and action pre-visualisation artist, and Tate as stunt department production assistant.

Bond University Director of Film and Television, Associate Professor Dr Michael Sergi, said he was not surprised the two were recruited for the film.

“Both Harrison and Emily were hard-working, passionate and dedicated students,” he said.

“They used their time at Bond to learn as much as they could about the film and television industry, and eagerly grabbed every opportunity that came their way.”

Hitting Australian cinema screens on Aug. 5, Suicide Squad was released alongside an exclusive VR experience, the first of its kind, that puts viewers in the middle of one of the movie’s action scenes.

Norris, who produced and directed the VR project, said it began as a “wild idea” he pitched to the producers who quickly saw its potential and jumped on board.

“I was initially recruited for, and subsequently led, a secret VR department within the production of Suicide Squad, alongside the best producers ever,” he said.

“I pitched a shift of focus from shooting a ‘behind the scenes’ of the film in VR, to an in-narrative piece, taking a scene directly from the script and shooting it in VR.

“The crew loved the idea, but the problem was the VR cameras couldn’t shoot any closer than four feet, which made it difficult to emotionally engage with the scene and make the experience feel ‘real’.”

Norris had a solution. The 19-year-old, who graduated from Bond University in 2015 after becoming the youngest student to be accepted into the Bachelor of Film and Television program, developed a concept for a new VR camera that could be worn around an actor’s head, providing the world’s first, true live-action, first-person experience.

“My friend and fellow Bond graduate, Emily Tate, flew with me to LA to interview camera houses, post supervisors and engineers to build this new camera,” Norris said.

“In the following weeks I oversaw the project and guided the design as three talented specialists brought the ‘Mobius’ from a nutty plan to a functioning camera.

“The result is a VR experience that allows the viewer to literally see out of the actor’s eyes—if you’re playing Margot Robbie, you can see yourself swinging her bat and shooting as if it were you; and if you look left, there is Will Smith fighting right beside you.”

Bond University film graduates behind the scenes of Suicide Squad

Emily Tate with actress Cara Delevingne (Photo credit: Bond University)

Norris said while it had been a year since his Mobius camera was created and VR technology had now caught up, it was revolutionary for its time and kick-started the creation of his own VR company, Proxi, that now routinely worked with major studios including Warner Brothers, Paramount and DreamWorks.

“We’re still breaking every rule we can, most recently proving it’s possible for filmmakers to edit and/or move the camera in VR without disorientating the audience—hence busting one of the best known myths about VR—and there’s more to come,” Norris said.

Tate, the 21-year-old daughter of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, said since graduating from Bond in 2015 she had landed a number of roles in the film industry, including her life-changing experience on Suicide Squad.

“What I learnt from my time on Suicide Squad was beyond what I could have imagined; every single day there was something new for me to see, learn and feel,” she said.

“My career is really taking off and I have recently returned from New Zealand where I was working on Scarlett Johansson’s film, Ghost In The Shell, as the stunt department assistant coordinator.

Tate’s next job will be as production secretary on a film called Flammable Children starring Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue.

“I’ll be working alongside Harrison again on this film, and I’m also working with his VR company Proxi, so it’s really exciting to see two Bondies reaching their dreams.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without Bond and we are both really grateful for our time there.

“One of the biggest things that Bond taught me was about etiquette on set, which allowed me to fit in as a filmmaker, and not just a film student.

“My degree at Bond covered all the aspects of what it’s like to work in the film industry so when I went head-first into my career, I didn’t feel intimidated.”

Norris attended the Suicide Squad premiere in New York on Aug. 4, and returned to the Gold Coast the following week.

“I’ll be directing a whole bundle of short-form VR projects with Proxi that I’m not allowed to talk about yet before I start my role as second unit director on Flammable Children,” said Norris.

“I’m also attached to direct a feature next year in LA, so I’m staying busy.”

The Suicide Squad VR experience debuted at Comic-Con where thousands of people lined up for hours to trial it. It was officially released on Aug. 5 through Samsung Gear VR and at multiple physical installations worldwide.

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Discover more about Bond University Film and TV degrees. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Arts Degrees Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.