VR technology is becoming increasingly popular, not least in the entertainment context. It is, however, not the only use for virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR). The Enabling Research and Public Engagement with Babel VR project, based at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM), import 3D images and movies from medical devices such as CT scanners and microscopes so they can be viewed and interacted with in a VR environment. The project worked with researchers and teachers to explore how the technology can be used in various contexts, such as to interactively view ultrasound movies of the heart, explore CT Scans and MRI and for training and assessing surgeons to do hip replacement operations. They used and further developed the Babel VR software and examples and illustrations can be found on the BabelVR webpage https://www.cbrg.ox.ac.uk/cbrg/babelVR.html and on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/bioinfbloke.
The project manager, Stephen Taylor, says:
“This project was to develop expertise and unique and exciting VR experiences in the Medical and Cultural Heritage space to enhance the fantastic research and development here at Oxford and allow evaluation of the various VR technologies. In addition, we wanted work with other groups interested in VR and AR to put together a training program to train developers how to use the various technologies most effectively to create VR experiences. The aim was to support University of Oxford’s goal of remaining a premier institution for teaching in 2020, by adopting the most exciting teaching innovations made possible by digital technology.”
The project team are now developing VR applications using their Babel VR framework in a number of scenarios and are also looking to develop a “Medical XR” facility, which could provide development resources to allow rapid development of health related VR software.
The Enabling Research and Public Engagement with Babel VR project is based at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) and is supported by the IT Innovation Challenges.