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A new technology in the gaming world allows smelling in Virtual Reality Environments

Immersive video games primarily enhance their gameplay via audio and visual inputs. It is feasible to smell in virtual reality environments by utilizing a scent machine called an Olfactometer. Your nose could also become a part of virtual reality thanks to a new gaming console that allows you to smell.

Computer video games have traditionally centered on the moving pictures we can see on monitors. There are no longer any sensations. However, a scent machine that can be operated by a gaming computer has been created by an interdisciplinary research team from Malmo University and Stockholm University. The player of the game explores a virtual world that includes a virtual wine cellar, picking up virtual wine glasses that are filled with different wines and describing their aromas. When the participant lifts the glass, the little smell machine, which is attached to the VR system controller, emits perfume.

According to Simon Niedenthal, the capacity to shift from a reactive to a more active sense of smell in the gaming environment opens the door for the creation of brand-new smell-based game mechanics dependent on the players’ decisions and activities. Four distinct valves, each connected to a different channel, make up the olfactometer. Air is drawn into a tube by a fan in the center while it rotates. The participant utilizing the computer can provide numerous odor combinations and vary how much the 4 channels are opened up. Fragrance combinations may resemble the complexity of a real wine glass. The sport becomes more challenging as the complexity levels rise.

The odor game may be difficult for players with sensitive nostrils since, like typical computer games, it becomes harder as you get better at it. As a result, according to Jonas Olofsson, olfactory machines can be used to train wine tasters or perfumers. The source code for the virtual wine-tasting game as well as the schematics and instructions for the entire system are all freely available online. The Sensory Cognitive Interplay Laboratory, a study team at Stockholm University’s Division of Psychology, is upbeat about the possible applications of scented computer games now that they have grown in popularity.

Research staff leader Jonas Olofsson claims that individuals who, for instance, lost their sense of smell during COVID-19 or for other reasons, may be able to regain it with the help of game-based training using the new technology. Scent training is frequently suggested by doctors to patients who lose their sense of smell as a result of colds and other illnesses. However, Jonas Olofsson asserts that many people give up because it gets monotonous. Jonas Olofsson expresses his hope that game developers would start creating fresh, useful products for odor coaching using the new technology as a result of the designs and code being made available to the public as open source.

Open supply, in Simon Niedenthal’s opinion, encourages the availability, replication, and comparability of research findings. Additionally, it contributes to the development of a strong analytical and design community within the sport growth sector. Additionally, it implies a marked drop in the cost of the devices, making them more accessible and cheaper for a larger population. Simon Niedenthal continues, “We think that’s fantastic. We encourage open science, publicizing research findings, and the replication of study results by other researchers. Our discoveries will help others create olfactory machines and research cutting-edge strategies for incorporating fragrance in video games claims Jonas Olofsson. The title of the article is Smelling in a VR World Is Now Possible. The post debuted on Analytics Perception thanks to New Gaming Applied Sciences.

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You Answered: Are You Ready To Start Living With The Virus?

You Answered: Are You Ready to Start Living with the Virus?

Photo by Cydney Scott

Community Voices

You Answered: Are You Ready to Start Living with the Virus? Hundreds of responses poured in, expressing anxiety, worry, and hesitation, as well as elation, relief, and exhaustion

We posed a question to the Boston University community: As coronavirus mask mandates loosen or go away entirely (BU’s mask policy loosens March 7), and vaccination rates seem to have plateaued, are you ready to move forward and live with the virus in our midst? We hoped to hear lots of opinions. If you are ready, what does that mean for you? If you’re not ready yet, what’s holding you back?

You didn’t disappoint. Within hours, hundreds of responses came in from students, faculty, staff, and alums, as if we had poked a hole in a giant rain cloud overhead, unleashing a downpour of sentiments. “Yes. Back to business as usual.” Others? “Absolutely not. People are still dying from this are simply not ready yet.”

Scroll below to see what your classmates, colleagues, and friends are feeling. And remember—this is a complicated question with no easy answer. We’ve removed names, but identified people by their community status. 

Yes! The virus is already living with us. It will continue to evolve and diversify, influenced by our immunity (infection- or vaccine-induced) and our ecology (transmission control measures), but remain near-impossible to predict. Living with the virus means that I acknowledge that both viral illness and transmission control have inherent benefits and harms, and that my personal impact on the global state of the virus is minimal. Living with the virus means that we should direct policies at reducing inequality (the main predictor of disease morbidity and mortality) and away from simple transmission control. Living with the virus means that we recognize the much greater existential threats to humanity are climate change and biodiversity loss, and should be met with much greater collective and policy effort than control of SARS-CoV-2. —ENG sophomore

Covid restrictions are making me lose my mind. As a college campus with a vaccine requirement, it’s time we start weighing mental health consequences with health risks. Please. — COM freshman

I would have said no but after having contracted the Omicron variant and understanding the symptoms I am ready to live with it. Initially it was the fear of the unknown—what’s the virus like? Does it result in long-lasting effects? I think the benefits to transitioning from pandemic to endemic and having a society that lives with it and returns to normality outweigh the costs. — IS&T developer

Society is made up of many different people, and the disabled, immunocompromised, and chronically ill members of society can’t just decide to “start living with COVID” because COVID can still kill them. And to our the burden of safety on those individuals is ableist to the extreme as it privileges the abled. Disabled individuals have already expressed feeling forgotten by society as the pandemic continues, and things like dropping vaccine and mask mandates show that still to be the case. I, like many disabled individuals (who make up 1/4 of the world’s population, not a small number), am sick of being forgotten. — CAS junior

I have been ready to start living with the virus since April of 2023, and indeed, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve spent the last two years waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with me. Exercising, boosting my immune system, and yes, catching COVID. Three miserable days. Not fun, but I’ll take it over living in fear. — CAS assistant director

I’ve already stopped taking precautions and live my life the way it used to be, traveling, visiting friends, going to parties. The pandemic is no longer seen as a threat anymore. — CAS freshman

I don’t think we have a choice. The virus is here and we are here. We should, however, be vaccinated and boosted. We should also wear face masks as long as experts think they will help and where they think masks will help. — LAW lecturer

If you are asking whether I am ready to go back to doing all things the way they have been done before the pandemic, then the answer is no. The vaccine mandate and frequent testing, together with indoor masking when not alone, create a sense of safety. I could see combining any two of those three, especially while fast spreading variants like Omicron are around. I would not be comfortable with just one or none of these measures in place, because none of us live exclusively within a BU bubble and have countless other contacts in our daily lives. I am concerned about my own health as well as being the one who transmits the virus to someone else who could face a severe or deadly outcome. Same reason why I either drink OR drive, not both. — GMS assistant profesor

  Yes and no. With more than 2,000 people in the U.S. still dying daily and another 100,000+ new infections (both stats as of 2/24) it’s hard to move on. That rate is still more than those who die of heart disease or any other leading cause of death. But hopefully those rates along with hospitalization, etc. will continue to drop. I feel BU is one of the safest places to be given all the precautions including testing. For now I’ll continue to get tested regularly and wear a mask indoors. That said I just bought tickets to the McCartney concert at Fenway Park so hope springs eternal.

—STH assistant dean

I will be ready when there are almost no deaths from COVID-19. — SAR senior

I think a majority of the people who are going to say they are ready to live with the virus are the same people who have been too selfish to put in the work to stop the spread. This virus isn’t like the flu or a common cold. There are otherwise healthy people who are dying, even with the vaccine, and I think it is unfair to decide to begin “living” with the virus when there is a part of the population who can’t just “live” with the virus. It’s selfish to exclude immunocompromised people from society because you are tired of wearing masks and taking covid-19 tests. — Questrom senior

Thanks to the vaccine, it *is* possible to rejoin public life, and we should, for our mental and civic health. In 2023, right-wingers pretended Covid was no worse than the regular flu, and they were dead wrong. Now, the virus largely* only sickens and kills the unvaccinated-by-choice. Sadly, only so much can be done about those people. (*I have an autoimmune disorder, so I get some of the lingering fear. And no, kids under age 5 aren’t vaxxed yet, but that’s coming.) Yes, we should be prepared to mask up in certain circumstances. Certainly, anyone should feel free to wear an N95 or KN95 mask at any time without judgment. And we should *all* take common-sense measures, like staying home when sick, keeping kids home when they’re sick — even employers seem to understand that now. But it is not realistic to mask and avoid crowds forever. — ENG editor

I was ready to live with the virus in April of 2023 once we figured out the virus largely affects senior citizens and people with several comorbidities. College-aged students have never been at severe risk from COVID, and BU’s policies regarding quarantine protocol, green badges, vaccine, booster, and mask mandates have been an absolute travesty. BU has fear mongered their students into STILL believing that they need to wear masks, OUTSIDE. I’ve walked past several incoming tour guide groups this week and every single person is wearing masks including the BU student employee leading it. Would you like to send me the science that supports this nonsense? — BU Senior

Absolutely not. People are still dying from this and it still impacts disabled & BIPOC communities disproportionately. We still have a collective responsibility to protect each other. — SSW junior

Although the virus is here to stay, we are not yet in a position to relax mask mandates. Most of our BU community has been vaccinated and boosted, but that is not the case in the rest of the world. As long as those in other countries are unable to access the vaccine, we will continue to see new variants arise. Rather than relaxing masking mandates, we should be working hard to improve vaccination rates worldwide. BU should continue its mask mandate at least through the end of the semester. — CAS lecturer

Yes!! Free the teeth!!! — Questrom senior

I personally feel that we’re acting prematurely on these steps to return to pre-pandemic behavior, although I can understand why: we’re burnt out in the face of another war and a burning planet. Many would say we’re even traumatized by it all. But many studies show that 1/4 to a 1/3 of people that contract COVID will end up with indefinite symptoms of “long COVID,” making this pandemic a mass disabling event. When this country isn’t ready to handle a massive cut in their labor force, then, it only makes sense to maintain COVID safety measures until this disease reaches endemic status. This way, we’re more likely to reduce long-term economic fallout. — COM sophomore

Not if by “living with the virus” you mean removing mask mandates and vaccine requirements that protect the most vulnerable members of our community (children under 5, the immunocompromised, etc). Even as a young, healthy, vaccinated person, COVID is not the same as the flu. The pandemic is not over. If we pretend it is, then we only have ourselves to blame when cases surge again. — ENG junior

No, I’m not ready to start living with it, I’m ready to live adjacent to it as I have been and will continue to do so. Masks provide no additional purpose when students are sitting in an enclosed classroom for hours at a time and socializing, maskless, outside of class. All students are required to be vaccinated and boosted, and a large portion have had the virus. We do not have a mask mandate for influenza or the common cold, which has become akin to COVID-19. At one point we must consider the majority over the minority, immunocompromised individuals have the ability to protect themselves against the virus, and at one point society will have to return to normal (within appropriate boundaries). For these reasons it is imperative that we remove the mask mandate, while still requiring vaccines and testing. — LAW first year

Yes. There is a reason we get routine vaccinations for other diseases—we live with those viruses. COVID is a new one. It was shocking to us because we watched the pandemic and its corresponding restrictions unfold in real time, but taking a look at other pandemics in history, similar things have happened before (take the Influenza pandemic over a century ago and the more-recent H1N1 (Swine Flu) outbreak—did we not have safety precautions then and routine preventative measures now?) and those were also shocking when they first happened. We are living in history, and not everyone needs to know the original George Santayana quote about history repeating itself to understand that there is a lot to be learned and not repeated from this. What matters is that we have learned from this experience and now know how to move forward.

— GRS senior

I think I am. I’m not expecting things to go back to the pre-pandemic normal, but I am hoping that we learn some practices from this that make us more sensitive to public health. The main thing that means for me is: continued testing (at BU at least), mostly continued masking unless I’m with people I know, but reopening most spaces. Testing will probably peter out after a while as well, but I’d be happy if it just became the norm in America that you wear a mask whenever you’re feeling sick. That sort of post-pandemic world might be a world with fewer visible faces, but it will also be a world with fewer sick people, which is a trade I’m totally willing to make. — CAS sophomore

I’m only ready to start “living with the virus” if it means we are all actively participating in mitigation efforts and acting like the virus still exists. For many people, “living with the virus” feels like a carefree lifestyle where they might get COVID, might not, but they don’t care! For me, I’m still worried and I still have people in my life who could become very sick, so I’m not ready to live with reckless abandon right now. — MED research specialist II

I am ready for the mask mandate to be lifted: I know fewer and fewer people by the week that are testing positive, and if the virus is becoming manageable, I think we should treat it as we treat other viruses. There is an inherent risk of getting sick by just going about your day, and given that hospitalizations have gone down so much, I think that we need to accept that risk as a new part of our lives. — CFA sophomore

Going to some public places. Standing closer, even hugging, trusted friends. Not incessantly disinfecting my area whenever someone comes in to sit or uses my desk. Not wearing gloves when handling student IDs. But continuing to wear a mask everywhere but when I eat or at home. —  Residential Safety/Senior Security Assistant

Yes but if another variant comes up, I’ll put my mask back on. I am still wearing them inside public places but will look forward to taking it off. I will discriminate where and when I wear them as mandates lift. — Research coordinator, Slone Epidemiology Center

It feels a bit premature to me. The current variant does not seem to represent a significant death threat to vaccinated individuals, but I think it is a mistake to assume that this is the last variant – and that future variants will be less of a threat. Last I looked, the death rate is still high. (Boston reported 133 new confirmed deaths yesterday, 2/23 according to the Boston Globe). I also think about my yet-to-be-vaccinated 4-year-old grandson, and don’t want to bring the disease to him. I realize we are all tired and frustrated with the disease – and that it has caused a lot of stress, anxiety, and mental health challenges across our community. But I still feel that we should move cautiously so we don’t find ourselves facing yet another surge from a new variant. — Questrom lecturer

Yes. As scary as it is, I think our hospitals are more equipped with pharmaceutical interventions and understand how to treat COVID-19, and there is now a vaccine that people can receive to take additional steps to protect themselves. Masks are still able to be used for another layer of protection, but I don’t think that mandates are appropriate anymore at this stage of the virus. — SPH junior

Absolutely not. There are immunocompromised people on our campus and in our community that would be severely impacted by the loosening of COVID protections. There is still much unknown about this virus and it feels imprudent to lift restrictions. Living with COVID, for me, would mean a higher level of vaccination globally, consistent messaging from the federal government about the risks of COVID, and robust treatments for immunocompromised people. I recognize the difficulty COVID protections place on individuals, but this is the time to think collectively and protect our most vulnerable community members. — Assistant director, Office of Financial Assistance

No—I think lifting of mask mandates is premature. What does “living with the virus” mean to me? We live with viruses all the time, but those are viruses that are seasonal and do not cause significant long-term effects on our bodies. That’s not the case with COVID-19 yet. So to say this for this virus means that people are allowing their impatience with mildly annoying avoidance strategies (like mask mandates and testing) get the better of them. We are a stupid species. — CAS senior lecturer

The “Tools phase” of the pandemic has begun. We have the tools: Vaccinate, Boost, Test & Mask when required, or when the risk level is too high. I live in the city of Newton and have a child in the high school. She has missed 0 instructional days, because the school is 95% student vaccinated and teachers 100%. She had a full varsity swim season, with no meets canceled. No outbreaks on her team. I’m living my life and my family is too, but with caution and good care. We need to start to build back our muscle memory as it relates to compassion for others. Perhaps if we begin to live our lives more fully, that will show the unvaccinated that lives are being lived, and they may consider – finally – vaccinating for the good of the community. — Wheelock adjunct professor

No, I was boosted and became severely ill with COVID in January. No one should have to go through an illness that intense. We should continue to do things to protect one another like distance and wear masks. — GRS junior

Yes. There has been an overreaction to this “pandemic” and people need to be allowed to live their lives. The general public should not be mandated to cater to the terrified few. Accommodations should be extended to those individuals, not the other way around. We’ve lived with the flu forever. Why can’t we do that with this too? Mandates and masking is not a proportional response, especially when greater than 60% of current hospitalizations are from vaccinated individuals. Vaccine or not (just like the flu) people will still get it and it has a <.01% death rated. — ENG junior

I am ready to be on campus without masks. But living with Covid means hybrid work and being ready to mask up when the next wave comes. — GSDM HP & HSR, Instructor

Ready? We are living with the virus. At this point, everyone that is going to be vaccinated is vaccinated. We need to trust the science and move on. — Scene shop manager

I am not a pessimist but I think relaxing the wearing of masks during the winter season is risky. We should continue with the fight now that we seem to be having an upper hand over the pandemic. Notwithstanding my views, I respect the scientists, they know best whatever they say goes for me. — CAS senior

  I teach at BU and have a child less than 5 years old. For me this question is already something I am living. I will not be doing anything different. I will still mask and distance for him and for all vulnerable individuals like him (children, compromised etc). No eating out, no crowds. I wish I could change the hearts of many to feel that it is worth keeping up masking and other measures to protect parents like me and in turn my children. My own behavior will reflect the care for others.

— CAS research assistant professor

Haven’t we already been living with the virus? We’ve had the virus twice, it’s indistinguishable from a head cold. As a family we’ve moved on long ago. Very ready for BU to institutionally move on and stop testing, remove mask mandates and stop forcing isolation. — CAS assistant professor

Because the vaccine is generally accessible to the BU population, and because the mildness is extremely higher with the vaccine, it doesn’t make sense to keep disrupting life because of what feels like a common cold. — COM junior

I think the whole concept of “living with the virus” is utterly abhorrent. Not only are disabled and immunocompromised people not able to choose to “live with the virus”, but no children under the age of 5 are vaccinated, and children have consistently been shown to be at risk for severe COVID cases. All of these people deserve to participate in society to the same extent as everyone else, and their ability to do so is directly predicated on the measures the rest of us take to limit the risk of transmission in public spaces. Furthermore, even fully vaccinated and boosted people can go on to develop severe lifelong disabilities, so “living with the virus” means choosing to condemn people to a life of disability in a country that even before the pandemic actively made it difficult for disabled people to do just about anything. — GRS sophomore

Yes, I am ready to start living with this virus because the alternative- forever living in fear of it – is not okay. I will wear a mask in situations that feel it is warranted (large gatherings, around my elderly relatives). I plan to continue with other precautions depending on the situation, but I would like to be the one making the decisions rather then following blanket mandates. Most importantly, I would like to see our students have some normalcy again. I hope for them that the mask mandate will be lifted and weekly testing discontinued. — Kilachand Honors College administrative assistant

We have been living with the virus. I don’t think that means it’s time to cast aside all safety precautions and just let it be the worries and problems of the at-risk population. Everyone talks about getting “back to normal” but that will never happen again. We need to find a more empathetic future where everyone can live safely and happily. If mask mandates go down in Boston I personally will have to choose between my job and my health. I work in foodservice and its already so hard to deal with the stress of possible exposure from those who are more careless, if mask mandates go away that risk will increase even more. I can only hope that once I graduate I can get a less public-facing job and have some level of protection, especially if the world is deciding to “move on.” — CAS senior

I am ready to start living with the virus. To me, this means continued caution when feeling ill (calling out of work/school, wearing a mask in public) and continued support by employers/schools for engaging in these safety measures (because people cannot practice pro-health behaviors without a system that supports them in doing so). Additional accommodations for such pro-health behaviors (virtual/remote learning and meeting) should continue for all students/employees who wish to engage in spread-slowing safety precautions, regardless of the illness they may have. Such responsibility on behalf of the system and the individual should allow for the removal of all public mask mandates, vaccine mandates, or other policies that are not/have not been in place for other common illnesses. — SSW senior

No. It means that older, disabled, compromised immune staff become second class members of the university, the way they are second class members of society. The idea that we risk the lives of those who are most impacted by Covid so that the people least impacted by Covid can go back to “normal” is ableist and classist. — COM part-time faculty

I am cautiously ready to “start” living as I trust science and medicine. However I think it will take some time before I feel even remotely comfortable in a packed/full space – whether that’s public transportation, in a classroom or in the grocery store. I do think that workplaces and schools should still offer a hybrid option because there are a lot of situations that families have where health risks pose a huge concern (like my parents!). We’ve proven we can be effective at remote and hybrid learning so why can’t that be our new norm if it accommodates everyone at their own need? — BUSM senior faculty

I don’t think anyone can sanely live with the virus. I know I’m prepared to wear my mask to keep myself and those around me safe but as of now I can barely remember what it was like pre-pandemic. I get anxious when people come too close to me and sitting next to a stranger feels strange. Oftentimes seeing someone without a mask makes me upset. However, people are not doing what they need to do to help fight this pandemic and at the end of the day I am willing to stay inside, wear my mask, and do whatever I can do so that our younger generation do not have to live like this. — SAR freshman

Yes, but I will still wear a mask indoors during the winter season in certain settings. This will help protect me from respiratory pathogens. — Pathology professor

I think I will forever wear a mask in public because I have multiple comorbidities for COVID. But I’m still not as afraid for myself as I am for my friends and acquaintances who are immunocompromised. Society has shown with the push to normal that it really doesn’t care about disabled people or other vulnerable communities. Especially when those who refuse to get vaccinated claim it’s okay b/c it’s their choice, but they’re really taking the lives of disabled people into their hands. Disabled people are talking publically all over the internet about how they feel their lives don’t matter. Add to that the fact that long COVID is a disabling event and now there’s going to be SO many more people in this group that society has proven it doesn’t care about or want to protect. — Alumnus

Absolutely. There is no such thing as ZERO RISK. Actions such as getting booster shots, along with taking additional precautions if/when there may be future surges helps mitigate risks. But during periods where COVID presents lower risk, I’m willing to accept the risk if it means no mandates of any kind. — Alumnus

I am not ready to start living with the virus. I am not ready to return to “normal”. I am not ready to give up on public health measures. This pandemic has taken an enormous toll on my mental, physical, and emotional health. It has put a strain on my relationships and has increased the stress of being in school, which was already unhealthily high. We are all tired of the pandemic, but I strongly believe we cannot and should not give up. Wearing a mask may be uncomfortable, yes, but it is a key preventative measure. Regular testing may be inconvenient, but it’s worth it. I don’t know my classmates’ lives and they don’t know mine, yet our lives depend on one another. A classmate’s weekend activities could result in my being infected with COVID, and vice versa. Regular testing and mask wearing is a must. No if, ands, or buts about it. — SPH freshman

“Living with the virus” sounds like we should be ready to consider it as no big deal. Most of the focus seems to be on the mildness of symptoms at the time of infection and the ease of spreading it. But a disease that leaves some people fighting to recover normal function for weeks, months, or indefinitely is not something we should just accept. Until we know how to predict who is most at risk of long COVID and can treat those symptoms, I don’t think this is a disease we should regard on the same level as the common cold. Of course, if a disease that has killed over 966,000 Americans couldn’t get us all on the same page then there’s little hope that we’ll band together to avoid a long-term affliction with such a wide range of effects and severity. — ENG junior

No. School settings are cramped and stuffy and I would not feel comfortable in them without masks and testing. “Living with the virus” is a frustrating phrase originally peddled by the same folks peddling medical misinformation that has prolonged this pandemic. Regardless, to the extent we choose to “live with the virus,” we must continue with basic, non-disruptive mitigation measures like masking and regular testing. Proceeding without these things is not “living with the virus” but pretending that the virus doesn’t exist, and will put students at risk. Disabled or immunocompromised students will be especially at risk considering the abysmal response they have received from the university and the hardships they have endured trying and failing to achieve reasonable accommodations from the institution which only seems concerned with money.  — LAW second year

I have a toddler who cannot yet be vaccinated. The existence of this group of humans, and the large number of families with young children, has been repeatedly ignored by people talking about Covid-19 and how things are “normal” because of vaccination. The idea of mask mandates disappearing is rather troubling. Every time I think about doing something simple, like bringing my toddler to the grocery store, I have to do so many mental calculations about his safety. Mask mandates disappearing makes things that much harder. If we had not had mask mandates in BU classrooms this year, I really don’t know if I would have chosen to teach.  — Part-time instructor and research assistant, Wheelock

No, not really. For most healthy, abled people, the virus won’t be a big deal if they’re vaxxed, but it’s pretty ableist to assume we can relax our protocols and act like the virus isn’t still among us just because *most* people don’t suffer that much from getting the virus. It’s still an issue for a lot of people and it’s a huge issue for people who are chronically ill. It’s our duty to continue to stay vigilant to protect our community. — CFA freshman

Yes. Masks are still a hindrance and many states have seen success without them. — ENG freshman

It is time to move on. Everyone who has wanted to get vaccinated and boosted has (BU has mandated it). Continuing to test people with no symptoms is also a waste. It is time to move on. One can get any other sickness or get hit by a car or the T on the way to class. We do not need to still be forcing people to live like it’s April 2023 at this point in time. — Questrom senior

“Living with the virus” is a vague phrase that has come to mean “drop all public health preventive measures.” No, I am not ready to drop all public health preventive measures. Widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 will continue to result in death, illness, and disability, for everyone and particularly for the socially and medically vulnerable. Widespread transmission and infection also provide opportunities for the virus to mutate in unpredictable ways. There is no evidence that widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 will result in long-term immunity or less-virulent strains of the virus. The responsible path forward at BU is to continue regular testing, use of high-quality masks, vaccine mandates, support for sick and caregiving community members to stay home, and opportunities for hybrid participation. — SPH sophomore

ABSOLUTELY – no masks, no testing, no restrictions, no guidelines. — Questrom junior

Yes, we can move forward but mask mandates still need to be up. Masks should still be required in crowded public places and on public transportation. — MET junior

I am ready to start living with the virus in the sense that I want to be doing all the fun things I can do as a senior in Boston without the guilt or fear of doing something wrong. I think we are seeing many things begin to loosen and operate in pre-pandemic ways. While I am fortunate enough to be healthy, I understand that everyone is not. Even though someone like me would not be scared of getting it, I also understand that not everyone has this situation. So while I personally am ready, I certainly understand the many reasons not to because we must still look out for each other. — CAS senior

Yes. We are all boosted. No masks mandated. Just if you personally want to. Symptomatic testing only. — Staff, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation.

While I do trust human ingenuity and technology, I believe that COVID-19 will always be smarter than us. Just like the flu virus, it will likely circumvent complete vaccination for years to come due to mutations in its genome. I believe we should begin to embrace this new normal. While we should continue to protect vulnerable individuals, we can’t live with masks on our faces forever. — CAS freshman

Yes, absolutely. I think that we should learn from New York and remove mask mandates. It would mean I get to live a more natural life, with things being back to normal again. Not having to wear a mask would make a huge difference when I go to the gym. It would also make a huge difference in being able to see the full appearance of people. — Questrom junior

It is long overdue that we embraced the Covid-19 virus as just another virus in our midst. In my mind, the risk for me ended once I got vaccinated in Spring 2023. I feel absolutely no need to wear a mask on this campus or anywhere else in the City of Boston, and haven’t for a long time now. Boston University should immediately drop its indoor mask mandate. Those who wish to, or need to, wear a mask should continue to do so without judgment. This is long overdue for a community of 95%+ vaccinated individuals. To this day, I do not recognize many of the students in my department. I have never seen the faces of many of our student employees! Release us and allow us to take confidence in the vaccinations and in one another. — CAS financial administrator

Realizing that the willingly unvaccinated are never going to change their minds (unless they are hospitalized), and that they make up enough of the US population to prevent herd immunity, then we must learn to live with Covid. We have no choice, as it has been forced upon us. Let’s hope that as the Omicron variant continues to decline, that a more deadly variant doesn’t rise up. We were lucky that Omicron was less deadly. Imagine if it was super contagious. — IS&T, senior automation administrator

I’m tired of watching people who barely cooperated with the most basic of measures in the first place attempt to strong arm the entire group into giving up altogether. I’ve patiently waited, gotten my vaccine doses and booster shot, observed all of the guidelines, and tried to model good behavior to my friends and family as they revealed themselves to be believers in magical thinking rather than the scientific method. The pandemic is not over, but we missed our opportunity to stop it before it became endemic. At this point, I’d prefer not to automatically know that someone disregards my safety and well-being through a casual glance at their face. — Desktop support specialist

No. My wife is immunocompromised (and I have conditions that put me at higher risk for severe illness). We don’t know if she’s protected at all, despite getting four vaccine shots. To us, relaxing now may be no different than relaxing before vaccines were in place. I get wanting to return to normal, but it essentially says “oh well, guess it’s time to see if this is something you’ll survive or not. We’re tired of protecting you, so good luck, hope you don’t die.” — Staff, College of Arts and Sciences

We kind of already are! Though long covid and lung scarring still scare me, and I’ll be keeping my guard up. — Associate director, ENG career development office

Unfortunately, yes. When people refused to wear masks or get vaccinated I began to resign myself to this reality. However, I hope that one day we can live without COVID-19. — GRS junior

Explore Related Topics:

25 Best Virtual Reality Apps And Experiences You Should Try

Best Virtual Reality Apps and Experiences You Should Try

Best VR Experiences in 2023

For those of you looking for some mind-blowing VR experiences, we’ve compiled a list of VR based experiences that featuring stunning videos that will transport you to a whole new realm. You can explore different 3D environments right from the comfort of your couch and believe me when I say, some of these experiences are just magical.

1. Within

Supported platforms: Android (Google Daydream), iOS, Windows, Oculus, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive

Price: Free

Download Within (Free)

2. BBC Earth: Life in VR

Supported platforms: Google Daydream exclusive

Price: Free

Download BBC Earth: Life in VR (Free)

3. InCell VR

Supported platforms: Google Cardboard/Daydream, iOS, Samsung Gear VR, Windows, HTC Vive, Oculus

Price: Free

Download InCell VR (Free)

4. Horizons

Supported platforms: Google Daydream

Price: Free

Download Horizons (Free)

5. Star Chart

Supported platforms: Android (Google Daydream/Google Cardboard), Windows, iOS, macOS, Xbox 360, Oculus

Price: $4.99

Download Star Chart ($4.99)

6. Google Earth VR

Not to mention, you can go back in time and visit places from Google Earth’s repository. Apart from that, there is also an option for flying which I am sure you are going to enjoy. Having said that, keep in mind, Google Earth VR is only available on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows computers.

Supported platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows

Price: Free

Download Google Earth VR (Free)

7. VR Media and Movie Apps – Netflix VR / YouTube VR / Hulu VR

My favorite media streaming VR apps are Netflix VR and YouTube VR as thats where I spent most of my time on. You can find these VR apps by simply searching for them in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Some of these apps also support Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and other VR platforms. Lastly, while these apps are free to download and use, you will need to have a paid account with the service (where it is required) to stream media.

Supported platforms: Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and more.

Price: None of the streaming service charge extra for VR

8. Dream Vision VR Apps

Dream Vision is a company which makes a ton of VR apps and games. Made by Tzumi Electronics, Dream Vision VR aims to enhance your augmented and virtual reality universe with a collection of the best VR apps, videos, and image content available. Under the brand name Dream360, the company has released tons of VR and AR apps.

Supported platforms: Android and iOS

Download: Free


Developed by New York Times, NYT VR takes you up and close to riveting stories captured by the publications journalists. If you’re looking to stay connected and up to date with everything that’s happening around the world, but don’t just want to read news to get that information, then you should definitely try out NYT VR. The app has some amazing content on offer and due to the fact that it immerses you and takes you to ground zero, the experience and the information that you gain about a particular topic are unmatched. Quick tip, download the videos before you play them or you might encounter a black screen if your internet connection isn’t stable.

Supported platforms: Android (Google Daydream/Google Cardboard), iOS, Samsung Gear VR

Download NYT VR (Free)

10. Fulldive VR

Supported platforms: Android (Google Daydream/Google Cardboard), iOS

Download Fulldive VR (Free)

Best VR Games in 2023

1. Mekorama VR

Mekorama is a fairly popular puzzle game and has featured on many of our best Android games lists, so when I found out that there was a VR version as well, I didn’t think twice before getting it on my phone. For those who haven’t played Mekorama before, it’s a three dimensional puzzle game in which you have to control a cute robot and take him from point A to point B, overcoming tricky obstacles all along the way. The VR version of Mekorama really does justice to the 3D puzzle as it allows you to view the diorama from any angle in full virtual reality.

Price: $3.99

Download Mekorama VR ($3.99)

2. Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes

Price: $9.99

Download Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes ($9.99)

3. Beat Saber

Beat Saber is one of the most popular VR games that you can play right now. In fact, the game was awarded the best VR game of the year on Steam in 2023. It’s a highly immersive game where you have to use your sabers to slash the music beats as they come flying at you, from right, left and center. The game is pretty simple that way, but as I said, with the right music beat and unique visual effects, you are taken to a futuristic world where you start enjoying the game thoroughly. The game is simple and easy to play in the beginning, but once you level up, you need to be fast and precise while slashing the music beats.

Many consider Beat Saber as the best game for a workout as it makes you dance in rapid motion while swinging and slashing the music beats. I would say, if you are new to VR games then you should definitely start with Beat Saber. You just can’t afford to miss this game.

Price: $29.99

Download Beat Saber ($29.99)

4. VR XRacer

Price: Free

Download VR XRacer (Android / iOS)

5. Fractal Combat X

Price: $1.99 on Android, Free on iOS

Download Fractal Combat X (Android / iOS)

6. Romans from Mars 360

Price: Free

Download Romans from Mars 360 (Android / iOS / Steam)

7. Thumper

Do music based games catch your fancy? Then you should consider trying out Thumper – a rhythm based action game in which you play as a space beetle, running down an endless psychedelic track, trying its best to confront the maniacal giant head from the future. Thumper offers nine different levels of rhythm hell with epic boss battles, simple controls, along with visuals and sounds that will definitely give you a sensory overload. It goes without saying that people who’re susceptible to seizures should stay away from this game as it’s full of flashing lights and images.

Price: $19.99

Download Thumper ($19.99)

8. Virtual Virtual Reality

Another great VR game that has been honored by a Google Play Award for the best VR experience – Virtual Virtual Reality – is also a must try for all of you VR fans out there. As the name suggests, Virtual Virtual Reality puts you in a virtual world where you start as a new worker for Activitude – a sci-fi facility that provides services to AI clients. But that’s not all, there are multiple virtual worlds within this virtual world in which there are a number of mini games that you can play. I won’t spoil the fun for you by giving you all of the details, you really need to try the game to truly experience virtual virtual reality or just too much virtual reality.

Price: $8.99

Download Virtual Virtual Reality ($8.99)

9. Deep Space Battle

Price: Free

Download Deep Space Battle (Free)

10. Rez Infinite

Another VR game that you should definitely try, Rez Infinite is an action packed shooter with incredible environments that you, as a hacker, have to traverse. The game has an otherworldly premise in which you have to travel through cyberspace filled with firewalls, viruses and other obstacles to jumpstart an AI called Eden that has fallen into a vegetative state. Eden is the core of Project-K, a system designed to curb the rising crime rates in the real world. So your failure to reach Eden and get it back up and running will have some serious consequences.

Price: Free with in-game purchases

Download Rez Infinite (Free, with in-app purchases)

11. Eclipse: Edge of Light

Price: $8.99

Download Eclipse: Edge of Light ($8.99)

12. Twilight Pioneers

Have you ever wondered if you would experience a full-scale RPG in VR? Well, you can with Twilight Pioneers – a first-person action RPG based in a fantasy world full of magic. The game offers an immersive VR experience, making good use of the Daydream controller to give free movement to the players. You can wield a variety of different weapons and embark on a thrilling quest filled with exploration, skirmishes and epic boss battles. It’s like playing World of Warcraft in first-person. Now, I’m sure some of you are going to love that.

Price: Free

Download Twilight Pioneers (Free)

Best Horror and Scary VR Games in 2023

1. The Exorcist: Legion VR

If you are someone who considers themselves bold, fearless, and daring then you should play this game and find out how nerveless you really are. Created by the horror maestro William Peter Blatty and based on the academy-award winning world, “The Exorcist: Legion VR” will test your mental strength to its extreme. The game is chapterized where each chapter features a new demonic entity which will test your courage.

This game without a doubt delivers one of the best if not the best horror experiences you will ever have. The graphics are scary, the music is ominous, and the demons are well, demonic as hell. The game is available for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift only, so keep that in mind. Finally, this game is not for light-hearted people so if you scare easily, be warned!

Supported platforms: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Price: $4.99 for Chapter 1

Download The Exorcist: Legion VR – Chapter 1 ($4.99)

2. House of Terror: Valerie’s Revenge (VR)

Supported platforms: Android (Google Daydream/Google Cardboard), iOS

Price: Free

3. Sisters

Another great VR horror game is the “Sisters” which will always keep you one the edge of your proverbial seat. Sisters is a VR ghost story in which you will have to spend a night alone in the house to find out what happened to yout aunt. The night is long and full of terrors and you will discover that you are not so alone after all. Be careful as there’s something in the house that doesn’t want you there.

Supported platforms: Android (Google Daydream/Google Cardboard), iOS

Download Sisters (Android / iOS)

Kelly Vero – A Real Virtual Reality Evangelist

So, How important does Kelly think VR tech in games and general use is going to be going forward?

“For kids in the future, this is one of the most important things that we have touched upon in terms of technological development. Simply put, it’s giving them an opportunity to do something that we couldn’t do.”

“It’s not that long since we were making calls from our landlines, to then having one of those massive Motorola brick phones. Back in the day if you had run out of change in your pocket and needed to make a call you were kinda screwed, or you missed your bus or whatever. Technology allows us now to not even think about it.

“In the future kids are not even going to be able to think about the differences between reality and virtual reality because it is going to be as simple as talking to you wherever you are through AR and VR.”

“Perhaps, more importantly, they will be interacting with things in games in a way that we currently can’t. I’ve worked on some pretty big games in my lifetime where I’ve wanted to escape because it’s a safe place or a better world. There is more opportunity in virtual reality.”

And in schools? Where we currently have a very obvious issue keeping children interested. using antiquated teaching methods that bear no resemblance to the way they live their lives electronically?

“Kids are going to learn much more in education by being able to touch, feel, experience, and do. We as developers are going to be able to measure that so in effect, we will be the teachers. The more we create, the more we can measure. The more that we give parents and kids to do, the more they are going to be able to interact with real life.”

“We think that it’s such a barrier to real life when actually it isn’t. I thought the same when I first started at So Real. How do we convince people that what they are buying in VR is an apple?. You will think this is ridiculous but at the moment we are scanning in 100 different types of pomegranate so that we can use machine learning to pick the type of pomegranate you want. We are doing the same thing with sushi.”

“If you can give that to young people we can say there is no disconnect between the real and the virtual, then we have won.”

This can often be when your mind is actively processing other things at the same time, such as an intense space battle in Elite Dangerous or moving to dodge a punch in Creed.

It doesn’t always have to be during these moments, however. I used my Rift a few months back to play around with Google Earth and Street View. Once in VR, I headed to a small town in Ireland where I used to go on vacation each year with my parents. Using Street View I ‘walked’ up the street past the hotel we used to stay in. I turned around behind me and the large funfair and miniature golf course I remember from my childhood was there. My mind was temporarily flooded with memories and that provided me with a sense of immersion I haven’t experienced in games as yet.

Vr Shinecon Virtual Reality Headset

What’s in the Box

I see no mention of these pieces in the actual part of the manual that I can understand, so I have no idea what they’re for. Any guesses (hint: they’re not magnets)?

To Get the Companion App or Not

Luckily, the app isn’t needed; it’s just some recommendations to help save you some time. It would really be handy if it were in English. I could have saved the hour or so it took me to find some decent VR apps to try (including the trial and error of finding one that works properly).

Insert Your Smartphone Put On and Adjust as Needed

After playing around with each adjustment option, you should have a crystal clear view of the app or anything else you’re viewing.

You’re in Control (for the most part)

Finally, you’ll need to control the app by using your body – mainly your head. Since everything is in 3D, you have to act as if you’re right there in the setting; you’ll need to shake your head and rotate it to manipulate games and such.

Personally, I find some apps too difficult and frustrating to control by just moving my head around. They either move too slow or don’t move at all. Maybe I’m just too impatient.

Final Thoughts

I’ve tried a Google Cardboard knockoff in the past, and I must say this is much better in quality for obvious reasons. It’s very well padded, comfortable to wear, a lot more stylish, and doesn’t require you to put anything together; it comes ready-to-use right out of the box. It also has an adjustable strap for wearing on your head – no need to hold it the entire time like Google Cardboard. I only wish it had the built-in trigger / action button.

Charnita Fance

Charnita has been a Freelance Writer & Professional Blogger since 2008. As an early adopter she loves trying out new apps and services. As a Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS user, she has a great love for bleeding edge technology. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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The New Era Of Personalized Marketing Is Here. Are You Ready To Adapt?

Personalization stats for 2023 and 2023 show that brands can stay competitive only through a personalized approach to every customer

Today more than ever before, customers are critical of the experiences they get. They want brands to treat them as personalities both online and offline. They no longer accept average offerings and consider customer service as a part of the product they purchase. The Salesforce State of Marketing research showed that in 2023 84% of customers required a personalized approach.

Download our Individual Member Resource – Website and e-commerce personalization guide

This guide is aimed at marketing managers involved with making the business case for personalization, looking to plan a personalization implementation or extend their use of personalization.

Access the

Behind the vague concept of personalization stand efforts of multiple departments and considerable investments. So how do you approach personalization the right way? How much to invest and in what particular areas? Salesforce consultants suggest the key components of successful personalization in 2023.

1. Bet more on personalization to win

How much personalization investment is enough? Is something better than nothing?

These figures show that personalization is no longer a buzzword; it is a winning strategy that brings results to leaders and can leave competitors with more generic approaches behind. A reasonable question is:

Unfortunately, not this time. Let’s look at the leaders again to understand why.

Monetate’s report revealed that companies that allocated more than 10% of their marketing budget to personalization efforts got a higher ROI. In particular, personalization made up 21% of marketing budgets of 86% of the companies getting twice the ROI or greater.

2. Don’t underestimate a documented strategy

Personalization starts to pay off when you invest enough efforts in it. Although a quarter of the marketing budget is a big chunk, the results prove to be worth it.

To make sure your investment brings the needed results, you have to tie the efforts to business goals. A documented strategy will help you take better-coordinated actions and monitor returns. According to Monetate’s research, 77% of those companies that exceeded their revenue expectations in 2023 had a documented strategy. At the same time, the companies that didn’t have one were more prone to miss annual revenue goals.

Which metrics to track?

This failure to miss revenue expectations encouraged a third of businesses to prepare a documented strategy for the next year. To avoid such mishaps, it is better to start putting down personalization action plans from day one.

The stats show that companies with the highest return on personalization (three times) tend to focus on the objectives related to building durable relationships, such as on customer loyalty and lifetime customer value. At the same time, the organizations that have a low ROI (one times or less) prefer short-term goals, such as higher conversion rates and average order value, or lower bounce rate.

3. Customers share their data everywhere − Collect it!

Shoppers’ demand for better-personalized services stimulates marketing leaders to seek new sources of customer data that are publicly available and tell about prospects’ unique needs and personalities. It is no surprise that the average number of utilized customer data sources is expected to reach 15 in 2023 (compared to 12 in 2023).

What type of data is the most helpful in the leaders’ view?

This high-level understanding of every customer is the key to building long-term loyalty and enticing customers to buy more. The only reason for the low adoption of such data is the lack of sufficient processes and technology.

Unfortunately, common sense and motivational phrases (and even financial rewards tied to KPIs) can’t make salespeople put together customer information from various sources for every customer. Perhaps, only the most experienced team members can manage this task, and still, their time is limited while the customer base keeps growing (hopefully). This brings us to the next personalization success factor.

4. Use technology to put together customer data

Why do companies (albeit few) investing in personalization fail to get results? Businesses equip their sales, marketing, and service departments with the tools needed to track interactions with the brand, social and web activity, transactions, etc. Yet, in 47% of companies, this information is stored in four or more different systems, which are owned by different departments. As a result, their team doesn’t have a unified view of their customer base.

No matter how well the teams work, they can’t obtain customer data if it’s locked in other systems and, consequently, might annoy shoppers with excessive requests for information or irrelevant offers. Customers perceive a company as a whole and want brands to treat them consistently. This lack of centralized customer data is a great impediment to successful omnichannel personalization.

There are two ways to overcome the problem:

Integrate customer-oriented tools with each other to let data flow between systems and departments. This way, every team gets complete customer profiles in the systems they work with (like CRM for salespeople). Integration is not an easy task and requires the help of developers experienced in dealing with different types of software. Still, this is a logical choice for companies that already have several tools (perhaps, even custom-built ones) and want to leverage their capabilities.

Opt for a multifunctional platform solution that can put customer service specialists, marketers, and salespeople into one technological environment, and simplify access to customer data. In this case, platform tools would be integrated with each other out-of-the-box. In addition, all departments could use software with similar UIs, which considerably simplifies communication in customer cases. This is the best option for businesses that plan to migrate to more robust tools.

Any of these options will let teams look at customers holistically. However, data-rich profiles don’t pave the way to exceptional service automatically unless you can get valuable insights almost instantly.

5. Adopt smart technologies

In 2023, 23.2% of businesses invested in machine learning, and 48.5% were planning to do so within the following year (Salesforce). AI is gaining popularity for its ability to drive actionable insights from vast amounts of data.

Marketers use machine learning for a few purposes:

To offer customers the most relevant products in real time

To improve customer segmentation and journey predictions

To automate social and messenger integrations

To create dynamic landing pages

To enhance the online and offline experiences

Staff can use the insights delivered by AI to approach every single customer like a close friend. For example, ALDO Group equipped their in-store sales assistants with mobile devices. The moment a customer enters the store, salespeople know what to offer and how.

Still, AI is not the only intelligent technology that is gaining momentum. In 2023, marketers were successfully experimenting with IoT (44%), voice-activated personal assistants, like Alexa and Siri (32%), and virtual or augmented reality (29%).

These smart tools help brands deliver outstanding services and quickly win customers that are hungry for innovations. Take Sephora as an example. Their online virtual assistant perfectly recognizes face parts and allows customers to upload their personal photos to virtually try on different makeup.

6. Discover new ways of personalization

Personalization is actually a broad term. Don’t limit your opportunities by sticking to the basics only.

Let’s consider email personalization. Evergage asked companies how they tweaked emails to individual customers. The majority of respondents (76%) used customers’ or companies’ names in the subject line and the header. About 50% of companies tailored messages and provided recommendations by audience segment, or personalized email messages at send time. Less than 25% of respondents reached the granular level to tweak message content per customer or personalize messages at open time.

All these actions fall under personalization, but customers won’t feel the human touch from a mere name change in the subject line. The more seriously a company takes personalization, the more happy customers they get.

Yet email customization is not the only way to apply content personalization. Market leaders definitely go beyond this and try to deliver unique experiences at every step of their buyers’ journey.

Today, less than 30% of companies succeed in personalizing product pages, blogs, search results, navigation, and pricing (Evergage). However, the growing adoption of intelligent technologies is likely to change the situation in the near future.


Customers’ expectations of personalized services are getting ever more sophisticated. To make shoppers happy, brands have to adopt new technologies that allow for humanlike communication in real time.

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