By Kathryn Jeffords
Virtual reality is an exciting immersive storytelling technology that has been eagerly embraced by gamers, journalists and other visual media makers. But VR's potential extends far beyond the world of gaming and storytelling. Now, forward-thinking doctors and researchers are exploring VR's potential to save lives and revolutionize healthcare.
HoloLens: Augmented Reality in Medical Schools
Microsoft Hololens has joined forces with Case Western Reserve University to release an app for Hololens that allows students to explore the human anatomy in augmented reality. The headset superimposes 3D graphics into the user’s viewfinder allowing them to explore a virtual body. This developing app may even replace medical school cadavers. The possibilities for medical education are endless with VR and AR technologies, and universities are starting to see the effects in a big way.
USC Professor Helping War Veterans overcome PTSD
Professor Skip Rizzo, Ph.D. spends a lot of time with his patients in war zones – virtually. Skip is the founder of virtual reality treatment to help heal active duty and veterans of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This method of “exposure therapy” helps participants relive the traumatic events they experienced in a safe and controlled environment. They learn to process instances that may otherwise trigger difficult emotional memories.
The Virtual Surgeon
Combining 360 Video, 3D and interactive content places you in a virtual operation room
With already 19,147 downloads, The Virtual Surgeon is quickly becoming the leader in surgical simulation. According to Medical Realities, the developer, medical training has come to a plateau in the past few years and this app offers a solution to more effective training accessible all over the globe.
Changing perceptions of pain
SnowWorld combines Pixar-like animation and medical use into a virtual reality game. This program relieves the pain of burn victims, changes perceptions of pain and treats chronic pain through mindfulness.
We’re all victim to feeling overwhelmed by the entertainment choices at our fingertips. With the radio world bursting with incredible science podcasts, even a simple search for an episode for your morning commute can quickly snowball into a 45 minute-decision making process that leaves you wondering why you’re paragraphs deep in a Wikipedia article about black holes.
In an effort to make one thing in your day easier, the SMASH team has hand-picked some of our favorite science podcast episodes.
1) Radiolab: Staph Retreat
What happens when you combine an axe-wielding microbiologist and a disease-obsessed historian? A strange brew that's hard to resist, even for a modern day microbe.
2) TED Radio Hour: The Unknown Brain
The brain can seem as mysterious as a distant galaxy, but scientists are starting to map and manipulate its many regions. In this hour, TED speakers take us on a trip through the human brain.
3) Invisibilia: How to Become Batman
Alix and Lulu examine the surprising effect our expectations can have on the people around us. Plus, the story of a blind man who says expectations have helped him see. Yes, see.
4) You’re the Expert: Bacteria of the NYC Subway System
Science? Yes. Comedy? Yes. Double win. Learn some of the shocking findings from the first large scale genetic study of the NYC Subway System.
5) Star Talk: Science Queries - Science and Morality
Explore the intersection of science and morality when host Neil deGrasse Tyson answers fan questions with the help of guest Michael Shermer, the founder of Skeptic Magazine and author of The Moral Arc.
6) Gastropod: The Scoop on Ice Cream
It's one of the most complex food products you'll ever consume: a thermodynamic miracle that contains all three states of matter—solid, liquid, and gas—at the same time. And yet no birthday party, beach trip, or 4th of July celebration is complete without a scoop or two. That's right—in this episode of Gastropod, we serve up a big bowl of delicious ice cream, topped with the hot fudge sauce of history and a sprinkling of science.
Today’s digital media landscape spans a wide range of innovative technologies, from 360° cameras to social media platforms, each creating new storytelling opportunities and a chance to reach new audiences. Some well-established digital media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have launched live streaming experiences. Others, such as Snapchat, have broken ground with innovative reconceptions of social sharing. And some historically print publications, such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, are thriving in the digital realm due to bold and experimental online storytelling techniques.
As the curators of the Science Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH), we believe storytelling is a common thread in our shared human experience, and that new media allows us to convey the wonders of scientific discovery in new and compelling ways. We want to share some of our favorite science stories of 2016 so far, told through innovative use of new digital media platforms.
Facebook Live: Mark Zuckerberg's live chat with the International Space Station
Published: June 2016
On June 1, Mark Zuckerberg hosted a Facebook Live event with the International Space Station - the first ever Facebook Live event to be streamed from outer space. During the 20-minute interview, Zuckerberg asked ISS astronauts Tim Peake, Tim Kopra and Jeff Williams about the experiments they’re conducting in space, future Mars explorations, and relayed questions from Facebook users. As of June 6, the archived video had been viewed 5,886,965 times.
New York Times Virtual Reality (NYT VR): Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart
Published: May 2016
On May 19, The New York Times published an ambitious Virtual Reality experience in which the viewer follows NASA’s New Horizons during the Pluto flyby. The story can be viewed on a computer as a 360 flat screen video. However, the Times intends for this story - as well as its 15 other VR stories - to be viewed on the NY VR mobile app. The Times and Google have teamed up on a simple “headset” called Cardboard, a cardboard hat that creates a VR experience, with the viewer’s smartphone as the screen. The Times worked closely with NASA to re-create Pluto’s landscape and surrounding objects in a 3D world, and the resulting experience feels like hitching a ride on the New Horizons flyby.
Ezalel Academy of Arts and Design: Histography
Published: April 2016
This data visualization timeline is unprecedented in scale, spanning more than 14 billion years of documented history, starting at the Big Bang. Though a seemingly unwieldy amount of information to pack into one data visualization tool, the timeline breaks up chunks of time in a with a fluid and intuitive user interface. The data is pulled from Wikipedia, meaning the events update automatically as information is changed and added to the the crowdsourcing platform.
Snapchat: National Geographic Discover
Published: January 2015 (ongoing)
National Geographic is making waves with its Snapchat Discover channel. As of May 2016, NG’s content was viewed 780,000 times per day. Snapchat’s Discover channels are a chance for traditional publishers to tap into Snapchat’s explosive popularity among 18-25 year olds. NG’s channel is a roundup of important stories, quizzes and short videos. And, as one would expect, the storytelling experience is fleeting, disappearing from view once each story has been played out. Tune in on any given day, and you won’t be disappointed.
As the curators of the Science Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH), we believe storytelling is a common thread in our shared human experience, and that new media allows us to convey the wonders of scientific discovery in new and compelling ways.