Yale lab receives gift to develop virtual reality tools targeting vaping among teens

The play4REAL Lab at the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games has received a gift from Oculus Education, a Facebook-owned technology company, to develop virtual reality (VR) educational tools that target vaping among teens.

The play4REAL Lab has been developing VR-content-aimed health prevention and behavioral interventions in young adults. Kimberly Hieftje, director of the lab, has spearheaded an effort with game developer, PreviewLabs, Inc., to launch smokeSCREEN VR, a VR videogame intervention intended to influence teenagers’ responses to peer pressure involving vaping, including practice refusals in real-time using voice recognition software.

We are excited to be able to continue this cutting-edge, innovative work through the generous support of Oculus Education” said Hieftje.

The new gift will be used to test the effectiveness of such interventions by supporting a randomized controlled trial that the lab will conduct with 230 teens. Over the course of six months, researchers will investigate whether playing smokeSCREEN VR can impact teens’ attitudes, intentions, social norms, knowledge, and behaviors around vaping. To aid in this effort, the lab will add two full-time staff and two student interns. 

The play4REAL Lab will also host several events over the next year with the goal of bringing teens and community members to the lab to obtain hands-on VR experience.

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