TSSG at WIT create VR/AR learning tools for COVID-19 awareness

Virtual Reality (VR) technology and tools are being embraced by teachers, parents and autism therapists to help individuals with autism.

Still from the CoronaVRus VR experience

Virtual Reality (VR) technology and tools are being embraced by teachers, parents and autism therapists to help individuals with autism to connect, gain a better understanding and learn necessary skillsets to enhance their communication abilities. VR technology provides a medium for autistic people to encounter varying stressful situations so they can learn how to adapt and deal with such scenarios. 

The VR/AR team in TSSG at WIT has combined visual and kinaesthetic learning tools to raise awareness of COVID-19. COVID-19 brings a change to the normal ways of life and work, and children often have trouble dealing with change and compliance with COVID-19 regulations which can lead to stress, frustration or even fear. Currently, social stories are utilised to try to explain such new scenarios to children with autism, but this has limitations. VR, with its interactive and engaging environment simulating real life scenarios, takes this COVID-19 education to the next level through the incorporation of role-playing, enabling children to practice their social skills, alleviate phobias all the while raising awareness and instilling knowledge around the COVID-19 rules and the new norm.  

How does it help? 

CoronaVRus is an interactive VR experience aimed at children, which is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) friendly and can be used as an educational tool in a fun and engaging environment. CoronaVRus adopts the HSE COVID-19 safety guidelines, and offers three VR experiences to showcase, educate and demonstrate such safety guidelines in an intuitive manner.  

  • Hand washing: 
    • CoronaVRus asks users to lay out the steps to effective hand washing in the correct order using flash cards in a VR environment. This approach requires the user’s full attention to complete the task, and will help to drive the correct hand washing process into the user’s memory. 
  • Social distancing: 
    • Social distancing can be a difficult concept to grasp for many people. CoronaVRus offers a VR world-scale environment for users to get used to social distancing, warning them if they come within 2 meters of another person. 
  • Pandemic overview & HSE guidelines. 
    • Within a virtual environment, CoronaVRus offers virtual leaflets detailing the HSE COVID-19 safety practices, plus accessible video content to explain the current pandemic situation in simple terms. 

CoronaVRus offers a safe, controlled environment to educate regarding compliance with HSE rules and regulations. It is a fun, interactive and a safe method of education and building awareness through the use of VR, providing opportunities to build kids understanding and compliance capabilities, while acting as another educational method and support for parents in these difficult times. 

Developing and making this VR experience freely available to the general public was a driving factor for the TSSG team involved. Lockdown has brought about restricted access to educational knowledge providers, parents greatly rely on these experts to support their kids’ education and social skills. CoronaVRus is an additional support to help in such situations for the greater good and to try to help kids gain a better understanding of how to deal with this global pandemic.  

CoronaVRus is freely available here