The VR experience is a combination of visual and kinesthetic learning tools to raise awareness of COVID-19 and is aimed at children aged 8 and up
The innovative CoronaVRus project won the inaugural People’s Choice Impact Award at the virtual ceremony for the coveted Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards which took place on 26 November.
The virtual reality team in the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) and the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) patiently waited in their homes for the voting to finish to hear of the win.
The awards was proudly accepted by Dr. James O’Sullivan, TTO Manager. “We are thrilled to accept the inaugural People’s Choice Impact Award. The aim of the CoronaVRus experience was to give something back to society at the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic to help those with learning difficulties to better understand the life altering restrictions. The success of this project is beyond our expectations. I would like to thank the team in KTI for their continued support of our multidisciplinary approach to research in WIT” he said.
The virtual reality team in TSSG developed CoronaVRus, a virtual reality (VR) application aimed at children that can be used as an educational tool to showcase, educate and demonstrate COVID-19 safety guidelines in an intuitive manner. The application is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) friendly and offers a fun method of education to build awareness in a safe and interactive environment.
Speaking after the win, the Directors of TSSG, Kevin Doolin and Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, extended their congratulations to the virtual reality team “Congratulations to WIT’s TTO Manager, Dr. James O’Sullivan, and the TSSG team, Ryan, Ian, Stephen and Colin, on winning this accolade. It’s a fantastic achievement and a measure of the research excellence currently in TSSG”.
Echoing the congratulatory messages is Frances Cleary, Research Unit Manager in TSSG. “I am very proud of the VR/AR research team for making it to the final and coming home with an award. The CoronaVRus project showcases the excellent teamwork within the unit and is a testament to their continued dedication whilst working remotely. This virtual reality educational experience is part of ongoing research into the impact of virtual reality on people with ASD and hopefully it has helped people better understand the current COVID19 regulations”.
The ARVR team were successful in an Enterprise Ireland funding call in 2019 to develop a Mixed Reality Lab in TSSG however, due to COVID-19, the finishing touches have been put on hold. Rather than allow the new equipment to go unused, the team utilised the materials in their respective homes and came together online to create this learning tool.
The VR experience is a combination of visual and kinaesthetic learning tools to raise awareness of COVID-19. Aimed at children aged 8 and up, this interactive experience can be used as a tool to educate children in a fun and engaging environment. Using the HSE COVID-19 safety guidelines, this informative and interactive experience demonstrates how to effectively wash hands using a sequence of cards and how to successfully practice social distancing in a supermarket or retail environment.