Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Virtual Reality Advancing

Engineers at Iowa State have developed 3-D software to give doctors and students a view inside the body. The technology converts flat images of medical scans into 3-D images accessible via a personal computer. The 3-D images are easy for doctors to see, manipulate, shift, adjust, turn, zoom, and replay at will.

The 3-D software uses real patient data from CT and MRI scans so that doctors can plan surgeries or a round of radiation therapy, and also be used for educational purposes. The software developed at Iowa State University is now being sold by a startup company.

Two dimensional imaging technologies have been used for a long time, but those images aren’t necessarily easy to read and understood by anybody but specialists. So university engineers Eliot Winer, Associate Director of Iowa State’s Virtual Reality Applications Center and James Oliver, Director of the university’s Cyberinnovation Institute, set out to develop the new technology. At that point, the team worked with Thorn Lobe, a pediatric surgeon based at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines to design a tool that doctors could use.

In 2007, a grant for $109,533 from the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a state economic development program, helped the three develop the technology into a commercial software product. The result is, a startup company founded by the three and based at the Cyberinnovation Institute. The company now has 13 employees, has been busy earning the required approvals from FDA, developing a web site, and beginning to make sales, said Curt Carson, the company’s President and CEO.

For more information, contact Curt Carlson (515) 897-9490, or email or contact Eliot Winer at or James Oliver at

In another venture, the Virtual Reality Medical Center (VEMS) located in several cities, is applying virtual reality technology in combination with physiological monitoring and feedback, to provide therapy and help train military personnel and civilian first responders. The company also supports the military by using the virtual technology to help soldiers with PTSD and TBI, and also to train combat medics.

The Medical Virtual Reality Center (MVRC) at the University of Pittsburgh uses virtual reality to help persons with postural control problems and for persons with or without balance dysfunction. The centerpiece of the MVRC is a virtual reality display room large enough for a person to stand in and to be able to interact with different virtual environments. This room called the Balance NAVE Automatic Virtual Environment was developed in close collaboration with the Virtual Environments Group at UNC (Charlotte) and with