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Tampa Bay company uses virtual reality instead of canceling annual summit

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Posted at 6:20 AM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 08:56:31-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Ultimate Medical Academy, or UMA, is a non-profit healthcare education institution.

The company has a summit every year when corporate partners are brought to Tampa.

Instead of canceling their event this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UMA utilized technology instead to bring Tampa to them.

“We did a virtual reality summit, in the VR headset it’s a fully immersive VR experience,” said Brandi Yates, UMA Director of Career Services Training.

Once participants put their virtual reality headsets on, they were thrust into the amphitheater and were able to look out to the Hillsborough River, see Plant Hall at the University of Tampa, and see parts of downtown like the Sykes building and the Tampa Museum of Art.

“We can set up the amphitheater, we can have presenters 360 in VR, we can show videos in VR, you really can do all of these different pieces inside of that medium,” said Yates.

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This was an effort to allow people to experience the city even if they couldn’t travel to it.

“We wanted to give them an experience that was still unique and could still give them that taste of Tampa,” said Yates.

During the conference, UMA says they also used virtual reality for a training module in empathy in healthcare, simulating an interaction with a pharmacy technician.

“This really allowed us to give our partners something new to focus on and that would be actually fully immersive that you wouldn’t be distracted by,” said Yates.

Once they realized the pandemic would change their plans for the yearly summit, UMA started working on creating a virtual reality version about three months ago.

The company says a lot of people are growing tired of just video chatting lately and wanted to do something different.

UMA plans to continue using virtual reality and hopes this will encourage other businesses to take advantage of this technology too.

“I think that during this time when everyone is in this all 24/7 virtual world that people are more interested like what else is out there? Let me see something different,” said Yates.