The ongoing coronavirus pandemic hasn’t affected only the working-age population and the elderly but also children, many of which haven’t been able to physically step inside a classroom for months now.
According to an Oxford study of 19,000 students, 29.4 percent of children attending school now struggle to sleep due to mental health issues, and 64.7 percent feel less happy in lockdown than when they were able to attend school. Unfortunately, schools are still closed in many countries, and they most likely won’t reopen until warm weather arrives.
To combat the negative psychological impact of prolonged social isolation, British company Avantis Systems has recently launched a free virtual reality technology whose purpose is to simulate the playground experience.
Called VRroom, the technology is described by its developers as a social engagement platform for schools. Teachers can use it to quickly and easily create controlled virtual collaborative spaces where students can interact with one another in an unstructured way—just like they would when playing on a real playground.
“School closures have been detrimental to student wellbeing. That is why we are launching VRroom, a simple solution for schools to create safe, virtual spaces such as playgrounds—among many more elaborate scenes,” said Nik Tuson, CEO of Avantis.
Each virtual room is designed to mimic a real-world location, such as a theme park, playground, or beach. The platform utilizes an advanced spatial audio system that makes it possible for students to form impromptu conversation groups. To recognize one another, students can customize their virtual characters and make them reflect their appearance and personality.
“As a parent myself, I know students across the UK are missing the core parts of their school day, like break and lunchtimes, which get them interacting on a social level. These unstructured interactions are key to developing their communication skills outside of the family unit,” commented Tuson.