Get smart with virtual reality 'brain helmet' 

Get smart with virtual reality 'brain helmet'

Get smart with virtual reality 'brain helmet'
By Lee U-Wen, TODAY

Now here's something that goes beyond just making you look smart.
An Israeli researcher has claimed that he has developed a virtual reality (VR) device that can make people smarter.
And if everything goes according to plan, Singapore could be one of the first countries to experience this new form of assistive technology.
Dr David Passig, from Israel's renowned Bar-Ilan University, has spent the last 10 years working with a team of 35 graduate students to fine-tune his "brain helmet".
The 48-year-old's goal is simple: To help children and adults of all ages and abilities learn better and faster.
He has since tested the silver-coloured device on hearing-impaired children, who traditionally perform poorly on IQ tests.
When the helmet is worn and the visor completely covers the eyes, the children, some as young as nine, are temporarily taken out of their physical surroundings and transported into a "virtual room."
They are then asked to perform various exercises that last about 20 minutes, such as solving mathematical problems and learning to assemble and take apart three-dimensional objects.
After doing the exercises daily over a period of three months, the children's measured IQ rose by as much as 20 per cent, claimed Dr Passig.
"We did a study with hearing-impaired children, who usually achieve relatively low scores in IQ tests compared to children who can hear. After using the helmet, the two groups achieved identical scores," he said.
The VR concept will not be restricted to helping children or the disabled. Several studies are being conducted with adults, while those with normal hearing have already undergone tests.
In September, Dr Passig's team will conduct research on teenagers with Down's syndrome.
The aim is to determine whether the device can also work on those who are mentally retarded.
Speaking to Today from Israel, he said he was "excited" about the "breakthrough potential", although he put the brakes on commercialising his device just yet.
"(This device) addresses cognitive skills that can't be attained in other ways. Many venture capitalists are looking at it, but I would prefer to do more research on other groups of people before commercialising it," he said.
Dr Passig did not rule out the possibility of introducing his device in other countries, including Singapore.
He will go on a 12-month sabbatical next year and intends to spend part of the time here, where he wants to meet people interested in VR.
While the use of VR in the field of education is not new, the University of North Carolina and the University of Washington, among others, have their own VR laboratories. Dr Passig said he wanted his research to take VR to a "higher level".
"There is something in this technology that we don't yet understand. There is potential here and we are just scratching its surface. Ours is the only laboratory of this kind (which is) developing technology to enhance thinking skills."
The "brain helmet" was first shown to the public last month at an event organised by Microsoft Israel in Giliot, near Tel Aviv. - TODAY/sh

I don't need VR to achieve the same aim of increasing Knowledge, just the training to increasing cognitive skills by exploiting the all five senses, with a possibility to create a sixth sense, I can beat every researcher's results, try me and you will see I am not bluffing, with at least a five year advance lead against the rest of the world, everyone takes me as a fool, but if I do not complete what I set out to do, it will take another century, or maybe never, for someone else to unlock all the keys. - oogle

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