VR + Sugar
In 2012, 29 million Americans (9.3% of the population) were affected by diabetes, with 1.7 million new cases added every year according to the CDC’s report on diabetes (2014). Of special concern are children and youth under the age of twenty, with 24,000 new cases added to the diabetic list annually. Although there are multiple reasons for this rate of increase in juvenile diabetes, we would like to focus on raising awareness about the consumption of excess sugar and its effect on our health and wellbeing. We intend to raise awareness about these issues by using innovative and immersive virtual reality (VR) technology to facilitate previously unavailable perspectives that can influence attitudes and behavior. In our VR simulation, users experience the effects of sugar overconsumption on their mobility, and see the social implications as well.
VR + Climate Change
The lab is also working with environmental journalists, law and architecture experts to develop simulations that demonstrate the adverse effects of climate change. Some of the climate change topics that the lab has been working on are sea level rise, ocean acidification, oil spills and the effect of climate change on animal and bird species. METL works on identifying effective ways to communicate messages related to climate change.
VR + Pain
In collaboration with Dr. Roger B. Fillingim, Director of The University of Florida’s Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence (PRICE), the METL is investigating how new media technology can contribute to reducing pain among individuals with acute and chronic pain. Specifically, we are currently conducting field studies at local tattoo parlors to identify key factors and affordances of VR that influence pain perception among individuals receiving a tattoo.
The on-going research seeks to explore how VR can serve as an effective non-pharmacological treatment for individuals with chronic and acute pain. Furthermore, findings aim to go beyond mere distraction, and identify specific mechanisms by which VR experiences can increase pain resilience.