LOS ANGELES, Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As an academic leader in the digital health revolution, the University of Southern California (USC) Center for Body Computing (CBC), part of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, announced today its first hackathon, "Hacking Virtual Medicine," using Virtual Reality (VR) tools to create a consumer experience evolution in health and medicine. Software and hardware programmers, developers, and designers will join innovative engineers, clinicians, business people, and others for a 2-day marathon brainstorming and building event October 3-4. Held on the university's Silicon Beach campus at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) in Playa Vista, five finalists will be chosen to continue hacking until October 8, when a panel of expert judges will award the top prize winner a $10,000 grant to further develop the concept.
The USC CBC hackathon, sponsored by USC and IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) with support from Akido Labs, USC D-Health @HTE and Doctor Evidence, will utilize the Google Cardboard smartphone viewer. Training and on-site support will be provided by the MxR Lab. MxR, part of ICT and the USC School of Cinematic Arts, is at the forefront of developing low-cost VR solutions, including the FOV2G0, a low-cost DIY smartphone viewer that predates Google Cardboard. The challenge is to take VR smartphone capability and change consumer behavior when it comes to health.
The USC CBC has developed provocative questions that need answers such as, "What will I look like in 20 years if I don't stop smoking?" "Why do I need a colonoscopy?" or "Can a VR game teach my child about diabetic glucose monitoring?" Participants are challenged to think about role reversals between physicians and patients and to develop concepts that create an immersive experience that can help with difficult medical procedures or other health issues.
"Our digital health mission is to make the world more open and connected while also providing continuous monitoring and personalized care delivered remotely," said Leslie Saxon, M.D., a Keck Medicine cardiologist and executive director of the USC CBC.
"Virtual reality is the new prescription in how we can treat patients – it enables consumers to adopt healthier behaviors and gain knowledge through their own experience. It's an exciting time for anyone at the intersection of technology and medicine and this is just the starting point for a whole new approach to health care, added Dr. Saxon."
Virtual reality is an emerging technology tool for physicians, surgeons, and other health care professionals to change the doctor-patient dynamic and empower patients to become engaged, to communicate, to connect, to share, and ultimately to be healthier – all through personalized virtual experiences. Diverse fields including medicine, psychology, neuroscience, and physical and occupational therapy are seeing evidence-based patient benefits from the advancement of VR.
"Immersive technologies can break down barriers – both geographically and emotionally – with some patients by allowing them to feel more empowered and in control," said Todd Richmond, director of advanced prototype development at USC ICT. "By putting on a headset, consumers are transported anywhere without having to leave their physical location. We've seen success in using VR to treat patients with PTS and other mental health issues, to manage pain, to overcome phobias and even to enhance surgical training. With VR, patients can be more engaged, ultimately helping health care professionals become more successful in patient outcomes."
"Virtual reality and body-computing technologies provide tremendous opportunities to deliver groundbreaking services by removing geographical boundaries, completely changing patient-doctor dynamics," said Jay Iorio, director of innovation, IEEE Standards Association. "This approach requires new types of content, and providing an open environment for content creators from disparate industries to collaborate and innovate very early in the development process will ensure VR-enabled personalized health care reaches its full potential."
Participants for the USC Center for Body Computing "Hacking Virtual Medicine" need to apply by the deadline: Monday, September 21 at 11:59 p.m. (PST). More information for potential participants can be found at: https://www.squadup.com/events/hacking-virtual-medicine. Entrants should have the imagination to dream up big solutions. The hackathon will provide sample clinical data, medical expertise, and some technical/programming tutorials for from ICT's MxR Lab's developer team. Individuals/teams who register should bring their ideas, design, art, and programming skills (Unity 3D game engine).
Each year the USC CBC offers a competition for designers, programmers, clinicians, and others to use digital tools to promote imaginative, innovative, disruptive, next-generation digital health products that empower consumers. Last year's SLAM contest, sponsored by Skullcandy, was won by SingFit, a mobile music app that aids in therapy for those with everything from autism and depression to chronic pain and Parkinson's disease. Previous year's competition winners have included LumoBack, a start-up with a posture sensor, and Vampire Rancher, a mobile social gaming platform for children with diabetes.
About the USC Center for Body Computing Conference
About USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT)
About the IEEE Standards Association
SOURCE University of Southern California