How virtual reality can solve real world problems

It should not be assumed that virtual reality technologies are used only for games or other entertainment. Their application possibilities are much wider. Lithuanian scientists are ready to offer virtual and augmented reality solutions that help in rehabilitation, encourage people’s physical activity, help companies organize employee training, activate tourism and the real estate market, and solve other pressing problems.
According to dr. Tomas Blažauskas, for example, when training with various simulators, one has to perform monotonous actions, so motivation is often lost and training is stopped. Enabling virtual reality has the added benefit of turning a boring activity into a game. VR gamification techniques can be used extremely widely, from education or increasing work productivity to health.

“The essential feature of virtual reality is that it deceives the human senses to such an extent that the body seems to be in a real environment, not a virtual environment. This makes it possible to diagnose various disorders in a safe environment, use virtual reality for therapy or conduct persuasive training,” said T. Blažauskas.

One of the latest examples is a virtual reality game used by researchers at this university, adapted to a balance training device – the balancing platform Abili Balance Analyzer. “This is a balance testing and training device. It can be used both for athletes for activation and strengthening of deep muscles, balance training and movement control, and for rehabilitation of patients. After stepping on the balancing platform and putting on virtual reality glasses, a person has the opportunity not only to train, but also to play a virtual educational game, the essence of which is swimming in a river while standing on an unstable log. In the game, the accuracy of the movements is assessed, points are collected, and the transition from one stage to another is made. Its purpose is to make training on the platform more interesting, to motivate athletes and patients to achieve better results,” said Dr. Dr. Aurelius Domeika.

Researchers are conducting research to find out what effect the use of virtual reality games has on training, and they say they have found that they clearly increase motivation. True, virtual reality is not acceptable to everyone, and sometimes those who want to use it need adaptation. “Virtual reality makes seemingly simple tasks difficult because many people are not yet used to using it. Some have to first learn to perform exercises only with the platform, and then try to balance wearing virtual reality glasses”, said Aurelijus Domeika.

KTU has special laboratories, competences and expertise for creating virtual and augmented reality products. Businessmen from foreign countries are also interested in these. The Italian company VertigoMed has taken a serious interest in virtual games for balancing systems. KTU Faculty of Informatics researchers, in cooperation with the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, have also developed a unique technology for investigating disorders of the vestibular apparatus, which also uses virtual reality. There is also work in the field of therapy – virtual reality applications are being developed to help people overcome various phobias, such as the fear of public speaking.