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 Using Virtual Reality as a Research Tool


Using Virtual Reality as a Research Tool

Tim Vallier, M.M.

Research Systems Analyst

Boys Town National Research Hospital


Virtual reality research is hitting a new frontier.  We are currently on the ground floor with a group of other institutions setting new standards for how virtual reality research should be done.  We’re actually looking at kids with minimal to mild hearing loss and how and how they react to different scenarios in the classroom. 

In our previous study we had placed subjects in this space and had these five television screens surrounding them and asking them to look around the space as different visual stimuli shows up on these screens.  Virtual reality allows us to match the visual space with the audio space.  We have desks in a classroom.  Chairs.  We have books on the bookshelves.  We have blackboards all over the room.  When you’re looking at the floor or you are looking at the surface of the desks, you might see a reflection of the light above you or you might see a glimpse of the light that’s coming out the window.  This tells your brain that you’re in a real environment where light is real and not in a cartoon space or a very virtual space.  What we think, is that when you take away the distraction from the room looking different than it sounds, that you might get a higher performance out of the subjects in this virtual environment.

Here at Boys Town National Research Hospital we are always looking for new ways to utilize and implement new technology and virtual reality is something that we’re really excited about.  It allows us to expand what we’re working on in multiple areas.  Virtual reality doesn’t discriminate between scientific focus areas so we can do virtual reality in an auditory study just as equally as we can in a vestibular study, and we hope that we can use that to help children and families in our community. 

New Virtual Reality Technology Helps Hearing Research

Boys Town National Research Hospital is implementing virtual reality technology into certain research studies. Watch how virtual reality can improve our hearing research and help children with mild hearing loss.