Multipurpose virtual reality environment for biomedical and health applications
Virtual reality is a trending, widely accessible, contemporary technology of increasing utility to biomedical and health applications. However, most implementations of VR environments are tailored to specific applications. We describe the complete development of a novel, open-source virtual reality environment that is suitable for multipurpose biomedical and healthcare applications. The developed environment simulates an immersive (first-person perspective) run in the countryside, in a virtual landscape with various salient features. The utility of the developed VR environment has been validated via two test usage cases: an application in the context of motor rehabilitation following injury of the lower limbs and an application in the context of real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback, to regulate brain function in specific regions of interest. The resulting test applications suggest that the implemented approach is robust, versatile and efficient. Both applications are publicly available via a GitHub repository, in support of the Open Science initiative. We anticipate our contribution to catalyze further progress and replicability with regards to the usage of virtual reality in biomedical and health applications.