Colorado State University has deployed a new VR lab; designed to accommodate up to 100 students simultaneously, the lab’s headsets run custom software which allow students to visualize life-sized virtual cadavers and medical imagery in a shared virtual space.

The so-called Immersive Reality Training Lab lab is part of a new CSU facility called the Health Education Outreach Center, says Jordan Nelson, a member the school’s Dept. of Biomedical Sciences and one of the lab’s operators.

Nelson tells Road to VR that the lab houses 100 headsets,, in clusters of four, allowing students and instructors to simultaneously visualize complex 3D anatomical imagery in a shared virtual space. The lab and its immersive visualizations are part of a larger anatomy education program where students study in a traditional anatomy lab, explore mesh model data and diagnostic imaging in the Immersive Reality Training Lab, take assessments on iPads, and spend time studying real cadavers, she explains.

Image courtesy CSU

The lab is powered by 100 HP PCs with corresponding Samsung Odyssey+ headsets with retractable hooks for cable management. The headsets run ‘BananaVision’ software which was developed in-house by Chad Eitel, a research associate at CSU.

“The BananaVision software used in the immersive lab was developed specifically for our anatomy curriculum at CSU. The multiplayer software allows groups of students to collaborate around the same virtual entity at the same time, while the instructor can join any group’s virtual room from the front of the classroom (coined ‘pod hopping’),” Nelson says. “Students can dissect a virtual cadaver, create cross-sectional images and study a variety of volumized medical imaging in the immersive lab any day of the school week. We’ve worked hard to create an anatomy curriculum that is not only hands-on and exciting but is accessible and impactful.”

And while the new tech opens the door to more intuitive and engaging visualizations of complex anatomy, Nelson says the lab is designed to complement, not replace, existing teaching methods.

“The intention of this lab has never been to replace cadaver education for students, but to supplement the curriculum.”

Image courtesy CSU

Nelson says the lab is the brainchild of Dr. Tod Clapp, an Associate Professor in anatomy and neuroanatomy at CSU, who had the idea of developing VR software focused on anatomical visualization for student education.

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The Immersive Reality Training Lab is part of the school’s new Health Education Outreach Center facility which was made possible with funding from CSU and the National Western Center COP.

Update (October 14th, 2019): A prior version of this article mistakenly referred to Jordan Nelson as “he” rather than “she.” This has been amended; Road to VR regrets the mistake.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Jimmy Ray

    It’s the thought process of a company or say college to get more advancements while the students get used and get no profit for what they achieve. Believe a college or company will do that. I would get a contract first. This kind of tech you can be raped from.

    • Nobody

      You should seek help.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      what the hell are you blabbing about.. This is great for the education of students, most people learn better when they see it visually in 3D than from a picture in a book. Socialims sucks…

      • Jimmy Ray

        If these group of students actually find something I just hope they don’t get screwed and the only one benefiting is the college not the people that actually did the the work. Yes socialism sucks. Hence why I say this.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          But that’s normal with stuff invented during college, it’s the same as inventing/creating something while working for a company (you get PAID to invent/create it, otherwise you should just go do it on your own, good luck in finding the money/laboratory etc…..)

        • Kryojenix

          “I just hope they [students] don’t get screwed and the only one benefiting is the college[,] not the people that actually did the work.”
          Kind of like Trump University? “For the ones that own the company.”

          • Jimmy Ray

            That’s what I said other then putting politics in it.

  • Peter Laurent

    A retractable cable system is pointless if it’s still coiled around your neck, those photos give me anxiety. The shared space is pretty cool though

    • Immersive Computing

      A simple solution is a tether belt clip, to ensure the tether always routes behind the user, keeps the tether away from the head and neck. Here is a 3D printed clip for valve Index, they are available for most headsets on Thingiverse.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        hmmm. that’s cool, I now wish I had fixed my 3d printer now so I could print it for the vive..

        • Immersive Computing

          I got my belt clip free of charge from Printlix when they printed my Index controller “boosters”.

          Could be worth using a 3D printing service to get one for your Vive, it made a big difference to keeping my tether under control and isolating any tether movement from the headset.

  • Emad Khan

    They probably used MR because they could run more than one headset per computer and still use the computers for other stuff like development/protein folding/ etc… Plus i have heard samsung does educational discounts from a headset that goes on sale for $300 anyway. My guess all the all headsets alone cost $20,000

  • The Bard

    Somebody smart there invested in Odyssey+ and not crap Rift S or Vive crap. OLED is the best and pretty high resolution of Odyssey+

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Yeah, shame the Odyssey+ wasn’t released in more countries.. Hopefully the next Samsung headset will have better tracking for the headset and definitly the controllers.. The probably choose the Odyssey+ because they could get it much cheaper..

    • Toothlover

      Rift S is crap? you better check your brain