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Coaching, Other, Soft Skills, VR-Related

Foretell Reality for Special Education and Soft Skills Development

In their recent article, Questar III Boces explains how they found success using Foretell Reality in their classrooms for special education. Questar III is a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and educates approximately 1,600 students in various programs including career and technical education (CTE)New Visionspre-K, and special education. Questar III also provides affordable management and administrative services ranging from grant writing to financial planning.

Student Satisfaction

Foretell Reality partnered with Questar III to create training sessions for key soft skills like employer expectations, customer service, and mock interviews for students from three different education centers. 84% of students using Foretell indicated that the VR experience was “easier than in person”, and 14% specified that it was easier thanks to the increased focus on a survey.

The Work Readiness and Transition Perspective

“There are some real benefits to using virtual reality with our students … Not only do we see increased engagement and focused attention from our students, but it also provides them with more knowledge retention and boosted creativity,” says Jon Levine, Work Readiness and Transition Coordinator for Questar III BOCES Special Education.

Levine says that VR classes relieved anxiety for their students because they gave them an opportunity to practice soft skills that they were not exposed to. Indeed, 72% of the students indicate that the use of virtual reality highly benefits their education, and gave the highest score for wanting to see more VR and Foretell Reality applications in future lessons.

Teacher Reviews

“I think VR offers engaging additional practice and create a realistic environment that can help future employees be more prepared for the process.” says a teacher using Foretell Reality as part of the program. “Most of our students are very engaged with the technical world and very much enjoyed their experience,” they add. All teachers interviewed agree on the benefits of engagement and realism provided by VR simulations in classrooms and express positive sentiments about its potential.

Coaching, Collaboration, VR-Related

Industries Using VR for Employee Training

Learning in VR

The ability to embody a role in learning experiences has proven to speed learning. Virtual Reality (VR) technology allows for completely immersive and engaging training experiences where learners are not just observers or note-takers, but become active participants in their training. At the same time, VR has a unique ability to surround the learner with content, guidance, and feedback that offers a different way of learning than any other technology or toolkit (Adept XR).

Training Solutions

Training is shown to be one of the factors that influence new employee happiness and retention (Lauhman, 2020). In fact, organizations with a strong onboarding and training process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70% (Gayatri, 2020). In contrast to in-person and online training, new employee training in VR can be done at any given time or location, without any external distractions. With remote jobs rising in number, VR is in a unique position to help thousands of employers and employees worldwide.

In manufacturing companies, employees who received training in VR or AR produced 30% more goods that met quality standards, made nearly 40% fewer errors than traditionally trained employees, and completed tasks 3.25x faster than traditionally trained employees. (Zawadski, 2020). Plus, by investing in VR headsets for employee onboarding, technology services company Accenture reduced their onboarding costs by an estimated 96.4%. This goes to show that VR can revolutionize not only training programs and their satisfaction but also the future performance of a company.

Just a few other commercial companies that use VR training for their employees are Goodway, Walmart, Porsche, KFC, Lufthansa, and H&R Block. The returns that they are seeing are incredible: After implementing VR training to improve the customer experience, H&R Block employees reported learning essential skills to manage difficult conversations. As a result, the company saw a 50% decrease in dissatisfied customers, a 9.9% decrease in customer handling times, and significantly faster issue resolution times among the representatives who completed the program.

The best part is that VR training can be adapted to any company and need. Without the need for extra personnel, gathering everyone together in a physical space, or programming activities for each new cohort, VR training solutions create a fun and effective learning experience that can be tailored to any company and training. The sky is the limit in terms of physics, equipment, and environments that can be featured in an experience. Not only do you feel like you are meeting new people, but thanks to the practice you get, your confidence increases as well.

Summary

VR provides a fun and immersive way to start learning a new skill, a new job, or even an entirely new career. It has shown benefits across manufacturing, service, and healthcare companies, as well as the military. By taking away the pressure of failure, VR training eases the learning curve. Plus, it drastically reduces the time, effort, and capital required from companies, and increases employee satisfaction.

Foretell Reality

Foretell Reality offers customized training solutions for educational institutions, enterprises, and hospitals. The Foretell platform supports as many as 25 learners at once, so your teams can learn from each other, and get to know their coworkers. We provide detailed analytics and feedback based on body language and speech, as well as performance improvements over time. Please visit our website for more information or to schedule a demo.

Industry News, Other, Therapy and Support, VR-Related

Foretell Reality at AWE with Yale University

Asher Marks, MD, Medical Director of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at Yale University School of Medicine, recently spoke at AWE Europe about his collaboration with Foretell Reality. Featured alongside CMO of the Glimpse Group, James Watson, Dr. Marks explained the value of VR in clinical treatments for pediatric cancer patients, a support group therapy in VR, and why the Yale School of Medicine chose to partner with Foretell Reality.

“We needed a company that was going to work with us to customize the experience for what we felt our patients needed, and what our patients said they needed.” Yale Oncology Department chose Foretell because it is a peer-to-peer secured application, has great spatial audio, is hardware agnostic, and is customizable, Dr. Marks says. In his talk, Dr. Marks also highlights how VR has a lack of distraction, includes body language, a shared space, and opportunities for self-expression through avatars. His study participants followed his sentiment, saying “I preferred VR to Zoom due to the fact that it felt more immersive as though I was leaving my house to attend group”. “I would prefer a VR group to a Zoom group, as this feels more immersive” another participant agrees.

“Participation went from 0% to 73% when we put our patients into social VR support groups,” said Dr Marks, highlighting the significant impact the VR-based cancer support groups have had. “It was extremely helpful to be able to vent to people who actually get it”, adds another cancer participant. The support groups aimed to improve psychosocial care for cancer patients aged 18-25. But using the phone was their grandparents’ technology, and using Zoom was their parents’ technology, Dr. Marks says. VR, however, was something new and exciting. As an added benefit, the groups allowed patients with Leukemia to interact without having the increased risk of infection spread. Some patients joined support group sessions from the hospital, and some others were homebound. “I think I greatly benefitted from the group and it made me feel less isolated”, says a patient after participating in the program.

After over 9 months of detailed planning, Dr. Marks and his team ran Phase 1 and 2 pilot clinical trials with assessment tools such as resilience surveys to measure results. The average participant age was 19, and the most common diagnosis of participants was Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. They had four patients per group, a professional social worker, and an invisible observer. The results were very encouraging: they found statistically significant improvements in resilience. “I was a little embarrassed to be myself, but this group provided me with the confidence to be myself.” adds one member.

Following this collaboration, The Glimpse Group is working to make the implementation, management, and measurement of XR technology in healthcare easy, and to promote more studies and partnerships. As XR becomes more mainstream, the cost of entry will become more affordable, Asher Marks adds. One of the major benefits of this study will be that it sets a precedent for other healthcare organizations, as mentioned in their Q&A.

virtual reality auditorium class
Collaboration, Industry News, Other, Soft Skills, VR-Related

A Guide to Education in VR

Introduction

Right after telelearning comes learning in virtual reality (VR). And before you say I have Zoom fatigue, we can assure you that this will be different. Rather than interacting with teachers and classmates through a screen, you will feel immersed and engaged in learning. You can have your next science class underwater and learn about the animals swimming around you– All while seeing and hearing your classmates through your headset. VR creates a sense of social presence that telelearning lacks, and a level of immersion that beat in-person classes.

Effectiveness

Experimental learning, simulations, and role-play all have a large place in VR. It is less about passive learning, like listening or reading, and more about active learning, like practice and discussion. With VR learning, your information recall and retention rates will be higher. The benefits of VR usage in classrooms also include raising students’ success and enabling collaboration across remote participants from different backgrounds. Finally, in areas like language learning, VR can help expose students to the language and culture repeatedly, increasing the depth and breadth of practice (VRScout).

Virtual reality promotes learning by doing. Researchers suggest that increased levels of immersive content stimulate multisensory engagement and can ultimately lead to more effective learning outcomes (Webster 2016). As an extension, an experiment conducted with over 1000 undergraduate STEM students found that VR education improved grades by a full letter grade (DeHart, 2018). The improvement is primarily related to increased engagement and motivation. In addition, VR was found to be more effective in improving knowledge compared to non-VR scenarios like simulations or traditional learning (Chen et al.). 

A review found VR education to be particularly effective in STEM, architecture, and medicine, as well as more fundamental skills and knowledge like learning how to organize thoughts (Hamilton et al., 2020). “A relatively small VR device can even act as a whole science lab.” writes Adobe. Think about reduced safety concerns, increased lab capacity, and an end to those nighttime lab sessions. Students are not limited in what they can create, and teachers are not required to have long hours of preparation. And for those who get queasy dissecting a frog, there are simplified simulations.

Accessibility

One way that VR helps level the playing field is by making field trips accessible to all. This is especially relevant for k12 students whose parents often have to pay extra for more engaging learning opportunities (Maristute, 2020). For example, students can travel to recreations of Ellis Island in the 19th century, meet the Egyptians who built the pyramids or go to the moon in a spaceship. Furthermore, many prominent museums and galleries have their exhibitions available in VR for students to explore and interact with at their own pace.

In addition, VR can recreate physically impossible scenarios for students to experience. For example, students can learn history surrounded by the remains of the Acropolis in Athens while conversing with animated gods and goddesses. As a result, VR is spreading among virtual campuses like Edstutia, as well as in brick-and-mortar universities like Harvard University, Nova Southeastern University, and Fordham University.  Some institutions, like Harvard University, have also started giving certifications in VR education to teachers.

Implementation

Just like remote work and therapy have not gone anywhere after the pandemic, remote learning is here to stay, taking education to the next level. In fact, a study published in 2018 that VR technologies are now mature enough to be integrated into education as much as any other computing technology (Elmqaddem, 2018). At Foretell Reality, we provide widespread education solutions, from virtual campuses to small discussion rooms and classrooms just like in a traditional school or university. On top of that, our users can customize their avatars, play games, collaborate on whiteboards, and explore 3D objects with their virtual bodies.

VR-Related

Why Therapy in Virtual Reality?

Presence

One reason that virtual reality (VR) therapy has profound impacts on human psychology is how immersive it is. Once a user puts on their virtual reality headset, they are transformed into a new space– A new reality where everything from the laws of physics to their environment can be modified. Secondly, there are no screens that frame the experience. This is because headsets provide sensory information that the brain processes as everyday reality. Additionally, the headset tracks head and body movements making the user navigate the virtual space with their body. So, with sounds, sights, and even haptic feedback, VR mimics physical spaces and situations with digital technology. As a result, users feel a full sense of bodily presence in the environments they explore through their headsets.

Presence is divided into three categories; personal, social, and environmental. Personal presence is easily created via virtual mirrors or visual identifiers like virtual hands. Social presence is established when interacting with other virtual beings like avatars or characters in a natural way, like through conversation or body language. And finally, environmental presence is a combination of the two that makes users feel connected to their virtual environments. In order to have a better understanding of presence, the ITC-Sense of Presence Inventory uses a four-factor assessment. They measure physical space, engagement, naturalness, and negative effects from the user’s point of view. This way, researchers can grasp how users’ journeys might impact their emotional states. So, despite debates on the definition and study of presence, there is a consensus that VR activates a sense of presence in a variety of users. This allows for a change in the dynamics of therapy, making it all the more immersive and rewarding.

Immersion

In VR experiences, immersion and presence are particularly important for skill learning and insight creation. By providing a story or narrative that the user can participate in, VR transports individuals into worlds that foster engagement and enjoyment. The feeling is comparable to the satisfaction of watching a movie or playing a video game, but in VR, users have an active role in the story. Therefore, users feel a sense of agency and responsibility. VR therapy can gamify difficult situations to learn and practice new skills. With inspiring visuals and stories, users can gain skills transferrable to the real world, ranging from emotion regulation to mindfulness. Additionally, the interactive stories provided in VR can reduce negative self-focus and enable reflection on oneself from a new perspective. In the end, VR creates a platform for engaged learning that positively impacts personal narratives.

The potential of VR therapy is vast, and it promises to make its way into more therapy programs as VR becomes a part of our daily lives. This is because it enables experiential control for therapists, creates specialized scenarios for different needs, and produces environments for psychological growth and training. Practically, it immerses people in scenarios that are difficult to replicate in real life, costly, and sometimes even physically impossible. VR therapy is an outlet for agency, narrative change, and a next-level experience for healing.

Foretell Reality

Foretell Reality is a VR therapy platform that leverages immersion and presence to create intimate gathering spaces for therapy and support groups. The app uses lifelike avatars that track hand and body movements and creates a seamless sense of social presence.

References:

Green, M. C., Brock, T. C., & Kaufman, G. F. (2004). Understanding Media Enjoyment: The Role of Transportation Into Narrative Worlds. Communication Theory, 14(4), 311-327. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2885.2004.tb00317.x

Lessiter, J., Freeman, J., Keogh, E., & Davidoff, J. (2001). A Cross-Media Presence Questionnaire: The ITC-Sense of Presence Inventory. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 10(3), 282-297. doi:10.1162/105474601300343612

NewPathVR, N. (2020). VR Psychology. Retrieved August 13, 2020

VR-Related

Artist Collaboration in VR

Artists in VR

Some fine artists shy away from virtual reality(VR) art, but recent technologies allow for the customization of different art styles and mediums, creating a whole new kind of artist: VR artists. VR can allow for polished productions, as well as experimental drawing, sketching, and brainstorming sessions in social settings. It is a great tool for artist collaboration for a variety of projects, as demonstrated by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang’s popular VR installation at Mass Moca.

Being in an environment where only your controllers and your artwork are present allows you to experience the excitement of full embodiment in a virtual environment, or “disembodiment” from your physical surroundings. While this isn’t always desirable, it helps artists and creatives achieve a “flow state” much easier than in other media or places.

VR combines music, physics, visuals, and organic movements through controllers and even hand-tracking. Many VR platforms can simulate being a master craftsperson in any art, from pottery to drumming. So, for people who want to express themselves in different ways and collaborate across the world, VR offers an increasingly expansive tool to try new media and create and coproduce.

Use Cases

Designers and architects alike have been using VR to prototype, visualize, and present their ideas. Some other examples of VR art created collaboratively include spatially mixed music, and paintings made by cumulatively collecting VR art in one virtual environment. But it isn’t limited to 3D visualizations and music: you can also act in theatre, and even spray paint with others in VR. With more advanced equipment, you can even animate 2D and 3D characters by wearing a body suit and dictating their movements.

The end products of VR creations can be seen in galleries, art fairs, music festivals, and most excitingly, in social VR apps like Foretell Reality which support 360 media from external applications. Foretell also allows for 3D drawing and sculpting in sessions to brainstorm and collaborate on bigger projects. Not only can you collaborate, but you can see other users’ work and discuss them in educational or therapeutic settings.

References:

Contemporary Artists Embrace VR to Create Immersive Experiences – Robb Report

Solving the “Botox Problem” for VR Avatars (theglimpsegroup.com)

Artistic collaboration in designing VR visualizations | IEEE Journals & Magazine | IEEE Xplore

Artist Carrie Able Believes VR/AR Will Help Drive Collaboration – ClubHouseVR

Music Production in VR | AliveInVR (aliveintech.com)

VR-Related

VR for Spatial Navigation Training

Capacities of VR

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated technology that creates immersive and interactive experiences transcending physical boundaries. Currently used by clinicians and therapists alike, VR can assist many types of physical and mental rehabilitation programs. This includes the clinical assessment, training, and feedback on performance for spatial navigation challenges.

VR helps scientists measure the strategies different age groups and primate species use for navigation. In evolutionary psychology, it is used to test spatial cognitive abilities such as learning, memory, and spatial navigation. Studies examine navigation through mazes and environments with various 3D and 2D landmarks and sometimes track neural activity.

Researchers use VR in one of the most challenging areas in neuroscience: the investigation of cortical mechanisms. It is technically challenging to perform neurophysiological recordings on people who move freely and navigate various scenarios throughout the day. So, VR offers control over landmarks, distractions, and spaces to assess attention and behavior.

Treatment and Rehabilitation

A study shows that VR can help neurologically assess and rehabilitate conditions such as spatial disorientation. Spatial disorientation is a severe case of difficulty navigating all types of environments, new or routine, commonly caused by brain damage. A verbally-guided VR-based navigation training program improved route finding for 11 participants with spatial disorientation.

VR training could also help treat landmark agnosia, a condition where patients cannot locate landmarks in the real world, impairing their navigation. Trials were even successful with more common conditions such as amnesia. These simulations have shown to have ecological validity, as virtual representations of real-life environments have successfully trained individuals to navigate real-life environments.

One key benefit to spatial navigation training is protecting the hippocampus against age-related changes during early and late adulthood. With VR, training can be done from anywhere in the world and with fewer physical barriers to accessibility. Since there are over 171 million VR users worldwide, implementing spatial navigation training in VR games could also achieve widespread preventative success.

Foretell Reality

Foretell Reality is an inclusive social VR platform where up to 15 active users can meet for live therapy and support groups. In the app, users can walk or teleport around open spaces, exploring private and public environments. Some spaces also provide navigation simulations such as mazes that allow for real-time spatial navigation training with professionals.

References:

Virtual reality in neurologic rehabilitation of spatial disorientation – PMC (nih.gov)

VR Training with Spatial Knowledge and Navigation (1library.net)

Spatial navigation training protects the hippocampus against age-related changes during early and late adulthood – ScienceDirect

Virtual reality in neurologic rehabilitation of spatial disorientation – PMC (nih.gov)

Landmark Agnosia: Evaluating the Definition of Landmark-based Navigation Impairment | Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

Landmark Agnosia: Evaluating the Definition of Landmark-based Navigation Impairment | Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

The Hippocampus in the Limbic System (thoughtco.com)

23 Amazing Virtual Reality Statistics [2022]: The Future Of VR + AR – Zippia

experiencing awe in VR
VR-Related

The Therapeutic Power of Awe in VR

Awe In VR

Virtual reality offers a powerful, novel method by which awe can be experienced in almost any setting. Creating an authentic sense of presence among vast and complex stimuli, VR is reported to be awe-inspiring by users alike, from first-timers to VR fans who regularly play VR games, socialize, or do business in VR. While research identifies that awe is one of the most powerful emotions we feel, its current therapeutic utility is limited by the practical problem of bringing awe-inspiring environments into therapy settings.

VR, however, has the capacity to bring us into vast and immersive environments within seconds. It can therefore reactivate the transformative utility of awe by presenting carefully crafted 3D environments and lifelike social simulations. Awe is a reaction to stimuli characterized by two features: perceptual vastness, and the need for cognitive accommodation. In other words, awe tends to be evoked by stimuli that are large, either physically, or by their cognitive implication, and which challenge one’s existing understanding of the world. It is an emotion that we feel when we see a breathtaking landscape or listen to rich and moving music.

The Therapeutic Power of Awe

The psychological effects of awe have important implications for promoting well-being, including dampening the body’s stress responses, and drastically changing how people process information. After experiencing awe, people have a more communal sense of self and adopt more inclusive values. Likewise, experiences of awe increase openness to experience, reduce the need for cognitive closure and reportedly challenge one’s worldview. So, when multiple people are experiencing awe together, the foundations for community, care, and compassion are laid out immediately.

Inducing awe during therapy sessions in VR could also help people open up and be more comfortable, shifting their preconceived notions about therapy when there is resistance to treatment or healing. VR therapy has the power to change what we see, and the emotional and cognitive state that we find ourselves in. However, unlike any other therapy, it offers clients and therapists much more immersion and control. It can therefore be used as a therapeutic tool for psychological intervention at home, in workplaces, and in clinical settings within sessions starting from a mere 3 minutes.

Foretell Reality

Foretell Reality leverages the power of virtual reality to create environments and experiences that induce intimacy, and a shared sense of awe. From sitting around a campfire and playing the guitar, to watching the rain fall and drinking hot cocoa in a cozy room, users can meet in different settings and discuss matters that are close to their hearts. But it does not stop there, you can travel across the world, see 360 videos of places you have never been, and interact with the virtual world in a creative and collaborative way.

To read more about awe in VR and see experimental results, click here.

References:

ASU News. (2019, January 3). Research that takes your breath away: The impact of awe. ASU 

News. Retrieved November 25, 2021, from https://news.asu.edu/20190103-research-takes-yourbreath-away-impact-awe.

Bai, Y., Maruskin, L. A., Chen, S., Gordon, A. M., Stellar, J. E., McNeil, G. D., … & Keltner, D. 

(2017). Awe, the diminished self, and collective engagement: Universals and cultural variations 

in the small self. Journal of personality and social psychology, 113, 185.

Campos, B., Shiota, M. N., Keltner, D., Gonzaga, G. C., & Goetz, J. L. (2013). What is shared, 

what is different? Core relational themes and expressive displays of eight positive 

emotions. Cognition & emotion, 27(1), 37-52.

Chirico, A., Yaden, D. B., Riva, G., & Gaggioli, A. (2016). The potential of virtual reality for the 

investigation of awe. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. 

https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01766

Keltner, D., & Haidt, J. (2003). Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion. 

Cognition and Emotion, 17, 297–314. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930302297 

Lindner, P. (2020). Better, virtually: The past, present, and future of Virtual Reality Cognitive 

Behavior therapy. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 14, 23–46. 

https://doi.org/10.1007/s41811-020-00090-714

Shiota, M. N., Keltner, D., & Mossman, A. (2007). The nature of awe: Elicitors, appraisals, and 

effects on self-concept. Cognition and Emotion, 21, 944–963. 

https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930600923668

VR during surgery
Industry News, Other, VR-Related

Virtual Reality as an Alternative to Anesthesia and Painkillers

Hospitals across the UK are embracing virtual reality (VR) as a tool for pain distraction during surgery and are finding that the benefits extend even beyond minimizing pain. 

A recent article published in The Irish News takes an in depth look at the impact VR  is making for patient populations. By using VR, the elderly are sometimes able to avoid anesthesia, which can result in serious side effects for older patients, including postoperative cognitive dysfunction. VR is also being used for children, as the sensory experience helps anxious and fidgety young patients to sit still during complicated procedures.  And VR’s benefits extend to all patients as it has been shown to reduce anxiety before, during, and after procedures.  An additional important use is the treatment of chronic pain as an alternative to addictive painkillers, which can result in long-term substance abuse disorder. The article cites a 2020 review from Health Technology Wales, which concludes that VR is actually more effective at reducing pain during and immediately after procedures than standard care, such as painkillers. 

Beyond improved patient care,  hospitals experience the added benefit of reducing overall costs. Anesthesia itself is expensive, and it often requires an overnight stay. Many patients (not just the elderly) are adversely impacted by anesthesia and experience symptoms like vomiting and chills, which extends their hospital stay. 

So why are the VR simulations, from a roller coaster ride to a wildlife safari, so effective? According to Jordan Tsigarides at the University of East Anglia, “VR is immersive. It floods the brain with audio-visual signals, engaging the senses and diverting the brain’s attention from processing pain signals…by putting someone in a situation outside of their normal environment, VR can be relaxing. And if you add in an engaging task such as a game, then it’s not hard to grab their full attention.”

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