Virtual reality has made inroads into several industries, and now it's coming to the delivery room.
The University of Newcastle in Australia has launched a new virtual reality project that aims at teaching midwives how to safely deliver babies in a "life-or-death situation." The virtual environment, which was announced on Friday, places midwifery students in a "real-world delivery room" and requires them to act quickly to resuscitate a newly born child. It depicts a child that needs resuscitation, tools that can be used to revive the child, and more. It also asks students to answer questions as they're dealing with the situation.
“With 15% of births in Australia and New Zealand requiring some form of resuscitation—a number even higher in premature babies—it is imperative our students feel comfortable and confident applying their experience in a time-critical, emergency environment,” co-project leader Jessica Williams said in a statement.
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Virtual reality and augmented reality are widely considered useful tools for teaching people in the corporate and medical worlds important aspects to their jobs. Microsoft's HoloLens headset, for instance, is designed for corporate use and provides users the ability to see virtual elements overlaid on the real world. Virtual reality headsets, on the other hand, place users into a completely virtual world they can interact with.
The Newcastle project, which was earlier reported on by CNET, is using Samsung (ssnlf) Gear VR and HTC Vive virtual-reality headsets for its project. But the university also created an app that can run on iOS, Android, and the PC, so students can test themselves on the devices of their choosing. Newcastle is testing some midwifery students with the virtual reality headsets and some without. It plans to compare those results to determine whether the virtual option is worth using into the future.
In addition to its midwifery project, Newcastle is separately using Microsoft's (msft) HoloLens headset to teach students about the human body with software that projects different body parts and their functions for students to explore.
"We hope these key educational projects will progress health and medicine education in ways that haven’t been explored before," the university's innovation manager Craig Williams said in a statement.