28 Jan Enhancing Learning While Saving Money: What’s Not to Like?
TJ Ferrill, Assistant Head of Creative Spaces, and his team in the library’s Creativity and Innovation Services Department, have been working with the School of Dentistry to incorporate augmented and virtual reality (VR) technology into their teaching and research.
The University of Utah has a long history with virtual reality technology, dating back to the Sword of Damocles – the first VR headset, made by Ivan Sutherland. The Marriott Library purchased its first Oculus DK1 sometime in 2013, and secured a Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset in 2015. As more and more consumer-ready head-mounted displays (HMDs) hit the market, the library began working with campus partners to explore new uses of the technology in education and research.
In January 2017, Mark Durham, DMD, Head of Prosthodontics at the School of Dentistry reached out to Library staff to begin exploring the potential of VR. After an initial demonstration, the library continued to help develop teaching techniques for dentistry students – saving the school money, while enhancing teaching and learning.
On January 23rd, Dr. Wyatt Hume, Dean of the School of Dentistry, visited with Alberta Comer, Dean of the Marriott Library, and Ferrill’s team about taking augmented reality to the next level.
“We’re now using Magic Leap HMDs to create three dimensional augmented reality overlays that dental surgeons can actually use during surgery,” explains Ferrill. “It allows the surgeons to see medical imaging data related to procedures, overlaid on the patient in real time. Being far more accurate than previous technologies, this technique paves the way for future surgical operations to incorporate augmented reality technology.”
The other significant benefit resides in cost-effective teaching. “Using this and other technologies [will help] teach students much faster at much lower cost. This is one of my goals … value in education. I think this sort of thing is going to decrease the cost of education. We can lower the cost of tuition because of this.”