CogPro Virtual Reality


Our goal through Cognitive Projections (CogPro) is to enhance post-secondary and health-care training by creating cutting-edge, authentic learning experiences in safe and accessible spaces, using affordable virtual and augmented reality simulation technologies. We believe that virtual reality (VR) has the potential to change the face of education and society forever.

We develop our simulations by applying video game development strategies, including programming and digital art expertise. Taking advantage of existing technologies, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Cardboard and other VR viewers enables our team to focus on the development of the patient interaction. Our Optitrack Motion Capture system also allows us to capture human movements for generating genuine virtual "people" in our VR simulations. Software systems utilized to optimize the project include Adobe and Autodesk Maya to create virtual models; Unity for developing the VR simulations; Optitrack Motive for generating authentic animations from the motion capture system; and IBM Watson for authentic character interactions through artificial intelligence.

Integration into curriculum and commercialization of all VR/AR objects is currently a focus of CogPro to ensure continuity of the program and continue to develop more cutting-edge VR/AR simulations for education and health care. Additionally, we are pursuing more projects both inside and outside of the university, as we believe in the monumental potential of VR across all disciplines.

Current programs available through VR/AR:

  • Advice Taking in VR
    Authentic simulation of advice taking in two contexts: financial advice and dental advice. Built for studying the effects of VR on engagement, enthusiasm, and learning in VR. In our study, VR improved adherence to advice taking in dental and financial contexts, publication pending.
  • Cell Anatomy VR Learning Object
    A learning object that allows students to view complex three-dimensional structures in virtual reality (i.e. actual three-dimensions), and thus, give students a better visualization of the actual scale and shape of the structure as compared to conventional two-dimensional representations. Pilot data collected using the cell VR application exhibited increased engagement and enthusiasm with the content.
  • Craniofacial Anatomy VR Simulation
    Detailed and interactive exploration of the entire head-and-neck anatomy including every single artery, vein, bone, nerve, and more. Allows students to learn anatomy in an efficient and interactive manner. Uses the HTC Vive VR headset.
  • Dental Anesthesia VR Simulation
    Realistic simulation of dental anesthesia injections that allows the student to perform their first injections in a safe virtual reality space before attempting on patients (or other students). Uses the HTC Vive VR headset.
  • Force Plates AR Visualization
    Analyzing forces created during gait cycles using a desktop computer disconnects the patient from the data. Augmented reality (AR) allows the clinician to view the data with the patient while the patient walks. Working with the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, CogPro is implementing an AR solution into their gait lab for patient treatment.
  • OSCE VR Simulation
    Authentic simulation of a clinical exam that involves natural interactions with a virtual patient avatar using artificial intelligence. Not only helps students study for the OSCE in an authentic manner, but also helps decrease significantly anxiety of students going into the exam. Our VR simulation of clinical exams aims to both prepare students for technical aspects but also decrease anxiety associated with the exam. Preliminary data collected from students using version 1 of our clinical exam simulator showed a significant decrease in anxiety.
  • Speech Pathology VR Simulation
    Detailed and interactive exploration of physiology associated with speech structures (i.e. the larynx and vocal cords) that imparts an improved understanding of speech pathologies to learners and patients. Working in collaboration with the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to implement this VR solution into their speech pathology clinics.
VIDEO: U of A, Rehab Med: VR viewer gives students on-the-go virtual learning experience
VIDEO: U of A, Rehab Med: Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) Virtual Reality Program