Using VR to battle the pandemic

Dylan Stewert, senior healthcare administration major, play a boxing simulation game on his VR while spending time with friends.

Technology that, a few years ago, was used for little more than to play games and give some people headaches may now save lives. Virtual Reality technology is more important than ever as the United States searches for a cure for COVID-19.

ReasearchAndMarkets.com compiled the “Global Virtual Reality Market Report 2020” in early September. They reported that by 2027, the global virtual reality market would reach USD 62.1 billion. 

They also reported that George Washington University Hospital is using innovative VR solutions to COVID-19, using the technology to see into patients’ lungs.

While this may be the newest impact VR has on COVID-19, it surely was not the first. 

SimX, a tech company and virtual reality simulation product, released COVID-19 training scenarios free of charge as early as April, according to a company press release. 

These scenarios may be incredibly useful in the fight to find a solution to the pandemic that has been so disruptive to the United States in 2020.

“As hospitals and clinics around the world reorient toward our shared war against the pandemic, opportunities for clinical training and education are diminished due to the lack of availability of clinical educators and the need to establish social distancing and avoid in-person didactics,” SimX said in the press release.

Benjamin Sanders, professor of computing, software and data sciences, said he was interested in the use of virtual reality in healthcare.

“In my opinion, the more precise mapping we can have the better,” Sanders said. “If we can augment our doctor’s understanding of what’s going on in the virtual reality context, then I’d be happy for (virtual reality) to help.”

Sam Castro, sophomore kinesiology major, said that he would be happy to see VR in healthcare, but cautioned that while it may fix some issues, it could create others.

“If there ever comes the point where VR is too real or people use it to escape reality, then it could cause problems among the mental health crisis,” Castro said.

Adam Peters, sophomore computer science major, has significant VR experience. 

He said that currently there are three major limitations in VR technology: graphics, comfort and cost. 

The technology is still in relatively early production. Some people simply can not wear a headset without getting motion sickness, the graphics still need higher resolution and it is incredibly expensive to buy consumer VR headsets. 

Yet Peters is positive about the future of VR technology.

“With any indication of technology in the past,” Peters said. “I would imagine that all these concerns will dwindle shortly.”

As the United States struggles for freedom from the COVID-19 pandemic, we fight with the tools we have always had: innovation, excellence and a desire for something greater.

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