Radio Western Morning News

NEWSCAST - Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Greg Bowman

CAMPUS:

  • Western alumnus Daniel Kharlas has been looking into virtual reality for senior citizens as of late, 
  • Kharlas, who has both ba bachelor’s and master’s in psychology from Western, is building on his earliest gaming success by expanding virtual reality’s role in society, especially focused on seniors. 
  • Most virtual-reality experiences involve the use of a headset that completely takes over the wearer’s field of vision. When turned on, the LCD or OLED panels inside the headset are refracted by the lenses to completely fill the wearer’s field of vision with whatever is displayed.
  • Visually, the wearer is transported to wherever the headset wants them to go – the outside world is replaced with a virtual one.
  • VR technology has been a rapidly expanding area in the tech sector, with everyone from Sony to Microsoft to Facebook in the game. Worldwide spending on VVR is expected to reach $160 billion annually in 2023, up significantly from the $16.8 billion forecast for 2019, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
  • Video game spending alone is expected to reach $20.8 billion annually by 2023. However, the fastest spending growth will come in more practical applications, like education, anatomy diagnostic and therapy.
  • At Western, Kharlas conducted a handful of studies exploring what should be measured when looking at meditation, being it focusing on personality, imagination capabilities or brain activity, then building a model based on those measurements to understand how different meditations line up to different outcomes.
  • Outside of school, he began developing the idea of virtual-reality mediation with an area company. The idea of incorporating virtual reality in this manner intrigued Kharlas, who began working on the idea of potentially starting a business during the first year of his masters.
  • Earlier this year, Kharlas opened VRcadia, a “virtual-reality lounge,” where customers rent the use of a virtual-reality booth for gaming, artistic endeavours, or other content. VRcadia also works with developers and designers, academics and artists, industry leaders and entrepreneurs to expand the VR market.
  • While virtual-reality gaming’s popularity trends younger, he started his Richmond and Oxford streets location with the hopes of expanding his reach by bringing virtual reality to as many different groups as possible in the community – and a big part of that is seniors.
  • Rather than battling zombies or aliens, Kharlas said seniors can take trips around the world, experience space or an underwater adventure, an African safari or even play ping pong or golf.
  • A number of VR startups have focused their efforts solely on seniors. Some early research has shown that VR can elevate quality of life, combat isolation, even increase physical activity and cognitive function in seniors.
  • Kharlas added virtual reality has the ability to make seniors lives that much better and open up endless possibilities, especially at a time when many think seniors are losing mobility and cognition and may be limited in their physical activities.

LOCAL:

  • The operator of London’s supervised drug-use site is facing such a large legal bill from fighting appeals against a proposed permanent site, the area public health office is considering cutting it a break.
  • London’s supervised drug consumption site is facing numerous legal charges from fighting appeals against a proposed permanent site, which has led to the public health office to consider cutting them a break
  • A proposal before the board of the Middlesex-London Health Unit would see it forgive $53,000 the health unit provided to help with the site’s early operating costs.
  • The Regional HIV/AIDS Connection, which runs the temporary drug-use site, is shouldering a large portion of the estimated $40,000 to $60,000 legal tab to fight appeals against the permanent site long planned for 446 York St., a former music store across from the Men’s Mission.
  • The city approved last year rezoning for the York Street site where people would be able to inject or consume drugs under medical supervision, a measure to save lives amid the city’s deadly opioid drug crisis.
  • But that decision is being challenged by several citizens and groups before a provincial tribunal, leaving an “unfunded liability” and unexpected financial strain on Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.
  • The money owed to the health unit stems from in-kind staffing and other resources it provided early on to help operate the temporary site before the province stepped in and increased funding.
  • The site opened in February 2018 as an emergency response to drug overdoses, many linked to the hyper-potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.
  • A proposal to waive the amount owed, which goes to the health unit’s board Thursday, would ease some of the  pressure the operator faces and help advance the fight against the opioid crisis and get a permanent site established.
  • In its first year, the site received about 13,000 visits by about 2,000 people, and staff reversed 76 overdoses with oxygen or the opioid antidote naloxone.
  • It was given six months of funding by the former Liberal provincial government and later received a series of 11th-hour funding reprieves by the new Progressive Conservative government late last year.
  • The site only secured stable provincial funding earlier this year. The intent was to transition the interim drug-use site at 186 King St., to a permanent location at 446 York.
  • In a surprise move, however, the province recently rejected the York Street location, citing the zoning appeal and community concerns.
  • The health unit could make up about $30,000 of the $53,000 from other surpluses. The issue goes to the health unit’s board for approval Thursday.
  • If forgiven, the amount owed would have a big impact in the community. 
  • A record 58 people died of opioid overdoses in London-Middlesex last year, according to Public Health Ontario figures.

SPORTS:

  • FC London’s women’s team moved into third place in the League 1 Ontario standings on Sunday afternoon with a dominant 9-0 win over North Mississauga SC.
  • London scored early and often, with Chelsea Zavitz picking up her first and second goals of the season, Julia Benati notching goals four and five for her, and league-leader Jade Kovacevic scoring four to give her 19 goals in 10 games played this season.
  • With the win, London moves to 6-2-3 on the season in the midst of a four-game unbeaten streak, including three wins.
  • With the loss, North Mississauga drops to 0-11-0 on the year, dead last in League 1. 
  • The ladies will be in action again this Saturday at German Canadian Field when they take on the Woodbridge Strikers. 

WEATHER:

  • We’re gonna have a wet one today, with a high of 27 but showers with a risk of thunderstorms persisting throughout the afternoon into the evening.
  • Expect some fog overnight with the temperature staying at around 20 degrees.
  • Tomorrow will see a high of 28 with a mix of sun and cloud with chance of thundershowers in the evening.
  • Then Friday will have an expected high of 34 with a risk of thunderstorms throughout the day as well.