UbiSim Makes Virtual Reality More Immersive and Attainable with Standalone Headsets

Virtual reality simulation is more immersive than ever with the release of UbiSim on standalone headsets. Historically, high quality immersive virtual reality simulation required the headsets to be tethered to powerful gaming computers. But not anymore!

With UbiSim’s cutting edge release, nurse learners can now enjoy virtual reality simulation with wireless headsets that heighten the realism, fidelity, and immersion so they can focus on what matters most—attaining the scenario learning objectives and outcomes.

Standalone Headsets: Immersion at the Highest Level

Fidelity, realism, and immersion help learners to suspend disbelief and buy-in to the simulation experience to ultimately attain the scenario objectives. As programs increasingly adopt virtual simulation in nursing education, there has been a recent call to unify definitions of the immersion level. Low immersion includes modalities where learners can sense the presence of an external device in the physical world through numerous signals. A simulation activity with low immersion includes a virtual, screen-based scenario where learners sense the presence of a mouse, keyboard, and the computer screen with a limited view of the clinical environment. In a simulation activity with a high level of immersion, there are very limited signals of the presence of a device in the physical world. Donning a virtual reality headset immerses learners in a realistic 3D virtual clinical environment, with their presence often becoming disconnected from the physical world around them. Although immersive virtual reality is considered a highly immersive activity regardless of whether the headset is tethered, the standalone headset further limits the signal of an external device. The sensation of the tethered cord can be subtle, but may ultimately lower the immersion and psychological fidelity of the simulation-based experience.

The literature shows that immersion matters. Simulations with higher levels of immersion can translate to improved learning outcomes when compared with those of lower immersion. A recent systematic review of immersive virtual reality in education found a tangible benefit on learning outcomes when compared with less immersive methods. In addition, the realism of highly immersive virtual reality may translate to increased levels of self-efficacy, self-confidence, and stress resilience.

A nursing student participates in a UbiSim scenario with a standalone headset

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Standalone Headsets: Making Virtual Reality Affordable and Practical

Hardware costs are an important point of consideration when adopting immersive technologies in nursing education. Historically, programs needed to purchase both headsets and powerful gaming computers to integrate virtual reality into their curriculum. Although hardware needs vary depending on a program’s size and virtual reality implementation plans, the costs add up as matriculation in nursing programs grows. Given a general ratio of having one virtual reality station per 25 learners, a program with 300 nursing students would need to purchase 12 headsets and 12 powerful gaming computers. In addition to the upfront hardware costs, programs would need to allocate physical space to store the hardware and have an adequate staff of trained IT experts to provide computer maintenance. With the release of standalone headsets, programs no longer need to purchase powerful gaming laptops to have a best in class virtual reality experience. Since gaming laptops can cost more than $1500, standalone headsets may save programs tens of thousands of dollars in hardware costs.

Before the release of standalone headsets, virtual reality simulation software had to be installed directly on gaming computers. Some program policies require IT experts to install and maintain all campus software. Since IT departments are very busy, this may increase staffing costs, workload, and delays in integrating virtual reality into the curriculum. The release of UbiSim on standalone headsets does not require any software installation on computers, making the experience efficient and practical.

Standalone headsets are lightweight, affordable, and practical

Standalone Headsets: Unlocking a World of Use Cases

The COVID-19 pandemic heightened the need for flexible simulation solutions that can be completed whether learners are on campus or at home. Standalone headsets are lightweight, portable, and require minimal maintenance, making them the optimal piece of hardware to send home with learners.

This allows educators to implement simulation in an asynchronous peer-to-peer learning model, where small groups of learners connect remotely to collaborate on a simulation-based experience. Such an activity uses faculty and staffing resources judiciously and is perfectly curated for adult learners facing competing demands with work and family obligations. This approach also gives programs the flexibility to allocate physical space to where they need it most, such as simulation activities involving manikins, task trainer stations, or standardized patients.

[left_line]Standalone headsets also optimize learner collaboration inside virtual reality scenarios. Traditionally, each learner inside virtual reality needed their own headset tethered to a robust gaming computer. This required a lot of hardware and could be difficult to manage logistically.[/left_line]

Now, with the use of standalone headsets, learner collaboration inside virtual reality is seamless and efficient. UbiSim has a robust multiplayer feature that allows teams of learners to participate inside the same scenario, even when located in different physical spaces. There’s also the ability for learners to don headsets and observe their peers from inside virtual reality, which has been shown to mirror active participation better than observing from a screen. Additionally, UbiSim learners now have the option to transition seamlessly to a debriefing room inside virtual reality where they can review scenario playbacks and detailed performance feedback as they reflect on ways to improve their future practice.

Watch nursing students collaborate in a multiplayer UbiSim scenario

The advent of affordable, powerful, standalone headsets heralds a new age in the use of virtual reality in nursing education. These devices leverage the known benefits of deeply immersive simulation to enhance the education of nurse learners, which can ultimately lead to improvements in patient care and outcomes. With this technology, educators can implement this innovative modality in a manner that is more inexpensive, effective, and accessible than ever.


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