GVSU uses Augmented Reality to help Students Experience Vision Loss in Medical Education

Hunter Bridwell, Digital Media DeveloperThis post by Hunter Bridwell, Digital Media Developer in eLearning and Emerging Technologies at Grand Valley State University.



Update:  The app developed by Hunter Bridwell will be presented at the American Occupational Therapy Association AOTA Annual Conference in April 2019! Carla Floyd-Slabaugh, will present the left visual field cut app in a session entitled: “Augmented Reality to Simulate and Instruct on the Topic of Left Visual Field Cut and Left Neglect in Context” on April 6, 2019 at the conference from 1:30 – 3:00 in New Orleans, LA. 

Photo of a sample augmented reality app showing a “left field cut”.As Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies develop, the market for apps and their various uses has begun to broaden, particularly in education. Even two years ago, the selection of applicable programs was slim and considered by most to be very gimmicky. Faculty often have very specific needs from lesson to lesson and while the platforms are currently picking up steam, a prepackaged app often doesn’t have everything that faculty may need and can have a lot of things they don’t need. Instead of waiting for someone to make an app and bring it to market, I worked in Unity to create it myself.

First, I was presented with a problem. Students in Carla Slabaugh’s Occupational Therapy courses have no effective way to experience what a “Left Field Cut” is without putting tape over glasses. It’s a simple solution but it doesn’t really meet the needs of the lesson. A Left Field Cut occurs after someone has a stroke: a large, left part of their vision is essentially cut out, but the brain doesn’t register this as blackness like the tape on the glasses would. Instead, it realigns the vision altogether. This affects patients’ motor skills. It often causes people to run into walls and door frames when they thought they were walking through the door. By programing a camera with a visual field cut in the Unity software, I used augmented reality to help students bridge the gap of understanding from what is being described to them to what a patient is actually experiencing.

“It worked great to simulate the field cut,” said Carla Slabaugh, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy. “With the fuzzy edge you made it let the student better understand how information on the left side can be missed. It is a huge improvement over the tape on glasses method.”

Learn more about the plethora of possibilities available through the Digital Studio at GVSU by visiting our Digital Studio Projects page.


Emerging Technologies: Augmented Reality Round Table

On Thursday, April 19, Eric Kunnen and Hunter Bridwell from eLearning, along with Kristofer Pachla, director of the GVSU Regional Math and Science Center, attended a round table discussion focused on augmented reality at Miller Johnson offices in Grand Rapids.

The round table was an outstanding morning of conversations and possibilities that augmented reality and bring to education, government, and commercial applications such as:

  • Interior Design
  • Facilities Viewing / Models Onsite
  • Asset Management
  • Complex Assembly and Error Reduction
  • Realtime Data Visualization
  • Learning / Experiential
  • Healthcare
  • and more!

Hunter and Eric had an opportunity to share how GVSU is exploring augmented and virtual reality through the Atomic Object Technology Showcase. They also were able to  experience the innovative DAQRI helmet and smart glasses first-hand!