Selective Mutism App at FLAVRS 2013

Development Update, Katelyn Procci No Comments

Katelyn Procci | March 30, 2013

On Monday, March 18, 2013, the Selective Mutism app was shown at the Florida Academic Virtual Reality Showcase (FLAVRS) here in Orlando. This event was a part of the IEEE Virtual Reality 2013 conference, which had nearly two-dozen stations featuring VR-related work from a variety of Florida-based universities.

The app was featured in our collaborator Dr. Deborah Beidel’s demonstration of anxiety disorder research, alongside one of her other projects, Pegasus School. Pegasus School, which was developed in collaboration with Virtually Better, is a virtual environment where children with anxiety can practice social interaction skills in a safe space. Children speak to the on-screen avatars, whose responses are controlled by an external agent. The children can practice their developing social skills in a variety of school situations, from talking with a teacher to handling a group of bullies.

Dr. Beidel @ FLAVRS

The event was a huge hit! The event lasted several hours and it seemed that the ballroom was packed the entire time. The highlight of the event was the amount of variety: Not only were there many different research groups and universities represented, the sheer number of the different types of technologies being used in so many diverse and creative ways was astounding. Aside from our laptops and iPads for treating anxiety disorders, other examples included a Kinect used for controlling a UAV via gestures, augmented reality for anatomy training (oh yes, projecting images of organs onto a person’s body, science fiction is becoming reality!), and an animatronic virtual human named Sean that was riding a scooter around the ballroom (which was somewhat unsettling–thanks uncanny valley–but still very cool). I am also pretty sure I saw a car driving itself outside.

FLAVRS 2013

The Selective Mutism app is currently undergoing usability testing in groups of both undergraduate students and children. The results of the usability studies will be used to refine the design of the app.


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