08 Aug 2022

Kilkenny researchers behind VR app for kids’ Covid-19 awareness

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Virtual and augmented reality is the future of learning and a Kilkenny software engineer is part of a team that is using the technology to help children with their awareness of Covid-19

Colin Fardey is a young software research engineer from Piltown. His role in the new technology was designing the graphics that children will use and the game functionalities of the virtual reality experience.

He works as part of the Virtual and Augmented Reality team in TSSG at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).
TSSG, an information and communications technologies research institute at WIT, has combined visual and kinaesthetic learning tools to raise awareness of Covid-19.

Aimed at children aged eight and up, this interactive experience is also ASD friendly and can be used as a tool to educate children in a fun and engaging environment.

Using the HSE Covid-19 safety guidelines, this informative and interactive experience demonstrates how to effectively wash hands, using a sequence of cards, and how to successfully practice social distancing in a supermarket or shop.

Colin’s area of research includes the use of virtual reality as a tool for therapy and meditation.
After graduating from Limerick Institute of Technology with a degree in Game Art and Design, Colin joined TSSG last September 2019. As a junior software research engineer he is currently working as part of the Mobile Ecosystems and Pervasive Sensing Unit.

CoronaVRus is just one of many projects the AR/VR team in TSSG are developing, explains Ian Mills, Technical Lead of the Virtual Reality team.
“We are very excited to return to the office and finalise the Mixed Reality Lab as it will open up new possibilities for cutting-edge research across a number of domains such as health and education,” continued Mr Mills.

The ARVR team were successful in an Enterprise Ireland funding call last year to develop a Mixed Reality Lab in TSSG however, due to Covid-19, the finishing touches have been put on hold. Rather than allow the new equipment to go unused, the team utilised the materials in their respective homes and came together online to create this learning tool.

The equipment in the Mixed Reality Lab will be used to advance research in current research projects including the benefits of virtual reality for people with ASD; how virtual reality experiences can give more accurate results in consumer experiences; how virtual reality can improve learning and development training in companies and the use of augmented reality in retail and tourism to enhance customers experience. The latter two are becoming more relevant in the current pandemic.

Miguel Ponce de Leon, Technology Gateway Manager invites companies who might have a concept, prototype or product, to contact TSSG about further development and testing in the lab.

“We have been approached by a number of companies in the past who need access to specialised equipment for testing and validation, but the facilities just didn’t exist,” he said. “We are delighted that our mixed reality lab will be available to companies of all sizes to access and reap the benefits of the equipment when it is safe to do so.”
Miguel is also based in Kilkenny.

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