The Metaverse has captured the imagination of people as a world of endless possibilities that influence every aspect of life. Discussions about the usefulness of fully immersive virtual environments were initially confined to a few tech and sci-fi circles until Facebook rebranded itself as “meta” in 2021. Since then, the metaverse concept has received a lot of attention. Researchers are now beginning to explore ways to use virtual environments to improve science and health research.
What are the main opportunities and uncertainties in the metaverse to help better manage non-communicable diseases? This is the subject of a recently published paper Journal of Medical Internet ResearchCo-authored by Associate Professor Javad Koohsari of the Faculty of Knowledge Science, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), who is also a part-time researcher at the School of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, and Professor Yukari Nagai of JAIST. Professor Tomoki Nakatani of Tohoku University. Professor Akitomo Yasunaga of Bunka Gakuen University. Gavin R. McCormack Associate Professor, University of Calgary. Daniel Fuller Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Professor Koichiro Oka of Waseda University. The team lists his three ways the Metaverse could be used for large-scale health interventions targeting non-communicable diseases.
Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and mental illness are heavily influenced by the “built environment,” the human-made environment with which we are constantly interacting. The built environment can affect health directly through serious effects such as pollution, or indirectly by affecting physical activity, sedentary behavior, diet and sleep. There is also Health interventions that modify the built environment can therefore be used to reduce the health burden of non-communicable diseases.
This is where the metaverse comes to the rescue. Experiments conducted in a virtual setting within the metaverse can be used to investigate the effects of large-scale interventions before they are implemented, saving time and money. “Within the metaverse, we can randomize study participants to experience exposure to different built environments, such as high and low density, high and low walkability, and varying levels of natural and urban environments. explains Professor Koosari, lead author of the paper. He is one of the top 2% of the world’s most influential researchers in all scientific fields in 2021. He added, “This article explores the use of the Metaverse for public health, urban design, epidemiology, medicine, and environmental science professionals, particularly for research and intervention purposes.”
The article then points out that the metaverse itself can be used to implement health interventions. For example, the metaverse can expose people to natural “green” environments, even when those environments have little or no access in the real world. In this way, the metaverse may reduce the negative mental health effects associated with crowded, stress-inducing environments.
Virtual living spaces and offices within the Metaverse are infinitely customizable. Additionally, changes to the environment within the metaverse can be implemented with the click of a button. So, thirdly, the Metaverse could also provide a virtual space for real-time testing of designs for new offices and built environments. Professor Koohsari said, “The metaverse allows stakeholders to experience, build and collaboratively modify proposed changes to the built environment before these interventions are implemented in the physical world.” We can,” he adds.
While this article lists some of the ways the metaverse can alter public health interventions by changing the environment in which it is built, the article also mentions the metaverse’s main limitations in simulating the real world. doing. In particular, the current state of the metaverse allows testing of many human behaviors and interactions with the built environment. Additionally, the population of the Metaverse may not be representative, as economically lower people have limited access to virtual reality technology.
The article also discusses how the metaverse can adversely affect the health of the population. For example, excessive immersion in virtual environments can lead to adverse health effects associated with social isolation, antisocial behavior, physical inactivity or increased screen time. Finally, the article notes that over-reliance on artificial intelligence can lead to the replication of real-world prejudices and social inequalities in virtual worlds. said like this.