Virtual reality scene of Plymouth path could be used to help patients

[From This is Plymouth]

[Image: A virtual reality view of Wembury]

Virtual reality scene of Plymouth path could be used to help patients

Friday, December 07, 2012
By Mike Bramhall, Herald Reporter

A virtual reality reconstruction of a picturesque coastal path near Plymouth could soon be helping patients at a hospital – which treats injured troops evacuated from Afghanistan – to recover from serious surgery.

The digital rendering of Wembury Bay, from the Church of St Werburgh’s to Wembury Point and Great Mewstone island, has been developed by researchers from the University of Birmingham.

They are set to demonstrate their work in a 3D show involving hi-tech screens and computers at Wembury village hall on December 13, starting at 7.30pm.

The team will reveal how a 3D reconstruction of the nearby coastal path is being developed to provide future rehabilitation benefits for patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

The hospital treats all the military casualties evacuated from Helmand Province in Afghanistan, as well as civilian patients.

Professor Bob Stone, director of the Human Interface Technologies Team from the university’s School of Electronic, Electrical & Computer Engineering, said: “For the past three years, we have been looking at how virtual reality could help patients recover from serious surgery.

“Evidence from research demonstrated the restorative power of exposing patients to real-world natural scenes, viewed from their bedside windows.

“In hospital environments without such views, we believe that ‘windows’ onto a virtual rural scene, complete with appropriate sights, sounds and time-of-day lighting effects, can be just as powerful.

“We also believe that those same virtual worlds can be developed to provide motivational interactive exercises to help amputees”.

Villagers will be able to experience demonstrations of these virtual environments using technologies, from gaming controllers and motion sensors to the latest VR head-mounted display.

They will also get the chance to see how a huge commercial dock and railway complex, once planned for Wembury but never built, would look now.

The doomed project, mooted just after the turn of the 20th century, has been digitally created by the researchers using Augmented Reality technology.

Prof Stone said: “The exercise demonstrated just how much of Wembury Bay would have been dominated by the presence of multiple quays, cranes, railway tracks, breakwaters and dockside services, not to mention the housing infrastructure necessary to support such a massive venture.

“Had the proposals not been rejected by the House of Lords in 1909, this development would have decimated the village and coastal areas beyond recognition”.

At the suggestion of the Wembury Historical Society and villagers, all proceeds from the evening will be donated to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity.


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