Category Archives: Identity

The weirdest VR experience yet could make you happier (incl. video)

“A new study asked participants to play the role of virtual therapist for themselves—and the results suggest that VR could be an effective therapeutic device for some people.

[The] study, conducted at the University of Barcelona by VR researchers and clinical psychologists … found that immediately after body swapping with Freud and counseling themselves in virtual reality, about 80% of the 29 participants reported feeling like they had a different perspective on their problem and that this would result in a change in the way they dealt with it.

Mel Slater, a professor at the University of Barcelona, co-director of the Experimental Virtual Environments for Neuroscience and Technology Lab, and the lead author of the paper [says] “The critical difference with the body swapping is you can think about it as if you’re another person listening to someone else’s problem …. That’s really what makes a difference.”

By Katherine Schwab at

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Seniors Realize Their Travel Dreams in This Intel Virtual Reality Project (video)

“This Brazilian Project Aims to Show Technology’s Benefits to Health and Welfare.

The project, a collaboration between Intel and online portal Razões para Acreditar (Reasons to Believe), gave VR glasses to the nursing home residents to take them to places either from their past or that they had always wanted to visit.

One woman emigrated from Spain when young, but has never been back. Of course, their experiences make for emotional viewing”.

By Alexandra Jardine for Creativity Online.

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Virtual Reality Helps Teens with Social Anxiety (video)


“Virtual reality is proving to be a viable solution to easing the social anxiety teens with ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome encounter daily.

These teens go through tremendous difficulty developing the social skills to interact with peers and adults in what most consider normal social situations.

The Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas has been successfully improving these teens social anxiety via VR sessions, helping them to make friends and communicate openly.”

Blog by Raphael Konforti at VR Fitness Insider

News report by NBC News Today

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Future geriatricians ‘become’ Alfred, a 74-year-old patient, using virtual reality


“[In a study at] University of Illinois at Chicago a virtual reality experience transforms the user into a 74-year-old named Alfred in order to see his perspective as a medical patient.

Seven minutes in the shoes of an elderly man whose audiovisual impairments are misdiagnosed as cognitive ones — and a story that students across many disciplines have worked together to create.

Their goal was to craft an interactive, experiential product that could be used for curriculum in geriatrics — the health and care of elderly people — because of predicted growth in future U.S. aging populations and a disconnect between patients and the students or doctors who treat them.

Becoming Alfred helps users empathize with and better understand elderly patients.”

Credit: Carrie Shaw

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How virtual reality is transforming healthcare (incl. video)


“With VR headsets selling out faster than manufacturers can create them, the future looks bright for mass adoption, and that could well mean that an Oculus Rift looks just as natural in the doctor’s surgery as stethoscopes and needles.

Here is a list of some novel uses for VR in mental health and beyond:”

1. As a treatment for paranoia

2. Providing phantom limb pain relief

3. As a super-effective pain killer

4. Helping PTSD sufferers live with their trauma

5. As a controlled virtual environment for alcoholics

6. As training for lazy eyes

7. As social cognition training for young autistic adults

By Alan Martin at Alphr

Image: D Coetzee used under Creative Commons

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Virtual therapy ‘helps with depression’, researchers say (incl. video)


“A new therapy which involves a patient embodying themselves in a virtual reality avatar of a crying child could help with depression, research has suggested.

Patients wear a headset that projects a life-sized image, firstly of an adult and then of a child.

The project is part of a continuing study at University College London.”

By Dominic Howell at BBC News

Image: University College London

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When virtual reality promotes social good (incl. video)


“The VR experience “Perspective, Chapter 2: The Misdemeanor,” which premieres today at the Sundance Film Festival, explores an encounter between New York City police officers and two young black men.

“The idea is to really use VR for empathy,” Ryan Pulliam [co-founder and CMO of Specular Theory] said.

The [Specular Theory] series is part of a broader movement to use VR to promote social good.

AT&T, for example, partnered with animation and visual effects studio Reel FX to create a VR experience called “It Can Wait” to discourage drivers from texting while driving.

In the simulation, the viewer drives a car through residential neighborhoods and busy streets with a phone in hand, narrowly missing bicyclists, joggers and schoolchildren and ultimately causing an accident.”

By Annlee Ellingson at LA Biz

Image: Specular Theory

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“Virtual reality will make us more empathetic humans” says HTC’s JB McRee


“HTC’s head of virtual reality JB McRee tells [The Telegraph] about the company’s high hopes for its Vive headset in 2016.

“In the future, VR will completely rewire the way our brains learn, he enthuses, with children in schools able to slip on a headset and find themselves in the middle of a historical battle. Through this they could pick up on the emotions of the people surrounding them, something McRee describes as “very powerful”.

He describes an incident when two police officers came into the US HTC office to try Vive, and said they could imagine it would help them deal far better with difficult situations in their jobs. Another use would be to allow the public to experience the kind of dangerous and stressful situations the police are faced with each day.

“Being able to educate like that would be really, really amazing. VR will make us more empathetic. And some people get really scared when I say that, but it’s true.”

By Rhiannon Williams at The Telegraph

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The UN Is Using Virtual Reality to Make the Rich and Powerful Feel Empathy


“For years, people have been talking about the power of VR as a tool for building empathy.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos where some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people donned headsets to experience a slice of displaced life in Syria.

Gabo Arora is new media advisor for the UN and co-director… of a series of virtual reality documentaries… (made in collaboration with VR video app Vrse and filmmaker Chris Milk and some funding from VICE)… to connect people with real life in the strife-ridden parts of the world that too often remain distant and abstract.

In his former role as a senior policy advisor at the UN, Arora says he saw first-hand the disconnect that can exist between the powerful and those who live with the consequences of their decisions.”

By DOUG BIEREND at Motherboard

Photo: Doug Bierend

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Virtual Reality Simulations Offer Potential for Breakthrough in Preventive Care


“University of Georgia researchers have found that when it comes to convincing patients that sugary drinks lead to obesity, the virtual-reality message sinks in far more deeply than an ordinary pamphlet.

“We’ve found virtual reality to be much more effective than pamphlets or videos at getting the message across and prompting behavior change,” says Grace Ahn, an assistant professor in advertising who leads Georgia’s virtual-reality research efforts.

Virtual-reality researchers have shown that letting people experience the future today makes them more likely to change present-day behaviors. That makes virtual reality a good fit for preventive health care, says Ms. Ahn.”


By AMY WESTERVELT at The Wall Street Journal

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