Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) often makes patients experience anxiety and sometimes distress before and during scanning. Researchers have developed an MRI compatible virtual reality (VR) system to create a radically different experience.
The strong sense of immersion with VR could create sensory experiences designed to avoid the perception of being enclosed and provide new modes of diversion and interaction that could make even lengthy MRI examinations much less challenging.
The VR system uses gaze tracking to control and interact with a virtual world. MRI compatible cameras allow real-time eye tracking. An adaptive calibration strategy in which each successive VR interaction initiated by the subject updates the gaze estimation model leads to robust gaze tracking. Physical sensations, including noise, vibration, and proprioception associated with patient table movements, aid in achieving immersive experiences. A live video link allows subject-carer interaction, projecting a supportive presence into the virtual world.