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University Of Wyoming Lab Improves Virtual Reality Simulations

Amy Banic

The University of Wyoming's Interactive Realities Lab is developing new tools to make virtual reality more lifelike, and as a result more useful for training simulations, education and entertainment.

UW computer science associate professor Amy Banic said the goal of her lab is to simulate real world conditions in a low-cost and safe way.

"The environment not just provides visual information but touches all of your senses," she said. "What we like to focus on in our research is how do we provide better tools, better interaction for individuals to do tasks in those kinds of environments or to have better experiences."

Banic helped develop one piece of technology that she calls kinetic skin. That technology might help doctors develop personalized physical therapy by monitoring their patient's motions.

"You put this temporary tattoo on your joint of your body. We can sense the change in joint information," she said. "If you move your fingers or your wrist, you can actually change or manipulate objects in the virtual environment."

Banic said quality virtual reality environments can also provide a safe way to train doctors, nurses, and people who have to complete dangerous tasks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she said it can also be used as an educational tool to help with remote learning.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.

Ashley is a PhD student in Astronomy and Physics at UW. She loves to communicate science and does so with WPM, on the Astrobites blog, and through outreach events. She was born in Colorado and got her BS in Engineering Physics at Colorado School of Mines. Ashley loves hiking and backpacking during Wyoming days and the clear starry skies at night!
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