UI researchers to demonstrate virtual-reality headsets to Congress

UI researchers to demonstrate virtual-reality headsets to Congress

Researchers with UI Health Care and the Veterans Administration will demonstrate their virtual-reality headset to Congress today.

Michael Wall, a University of Iowa professor of neuro-ophthalmology, will demonstrate to Congress the creation of a virtual-reality headset that will allow access to testing for people with degenerative eye conditions.

The Veteran’s Administration gave a grant to the research project four years ago, Wall said.

The device will improve veterans’ lives by making visual testing and monitoring available in many different venues, such as waiting rooms, outreach clinics, and in patient’s homes, according to a press release from the VA.

Wall said part of his research involves testing the visual field, and he wanted to create a better test than currently used. He formed a team of UI engineering students taking a senior design class to help with the project.

One of the computer-engineering students, Meghan Hartry, stood out to Wall and ended up working on the research project all four years.

“We were looking at a specific machine that helps people who have degenerative eye diseases, like macular degeneration,” Hartry said. “But there’s going to be different points in your visual field that start to go blind, so that needs to be tested regularly to see if it’s getting worse or to see what type of treatment they’ll need.”

Hartry said they used a Google Daydream, a virtual-reality headset, in combination with an Android smartphone to make the cheapest product that is more portable and accessible for people who don’t have access to the traditional testing method.

Hartry said people are skeptical that the original visual-testing equipment will do a better job than their VR headset, but the team’s goal is to make it work better with bonus capabilities. Read more

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