Oxford VR, an offshoot from Oxford University, is experimenting with virtual reality in order to help people confront their fears. Oxford VR developed virtual reality therapy designed to let users confront their fear of heights.
With a virtual therapist called Nic (which stands for “Now I can”), patients will go through various challenges like rescuing cats from trees or going in a tall building with glass floors.
Using voice recognition technology, Nic can interact with patients and gauge their fear levels by asking how they feel on a scale of 1 to 10.
Dr. Daniel Freeman, one of the developers, explained that the floating balls in the environment serve as “height reminders” that simulate an actual experience of being in a tall place.
“One of the beauties of [VR] is this disconnect between your head saying ‘It’s fine, there isn’t a height here’ and your body telling you there is. And that disconnect allows you to do stuff, and it allows you to laugh at some stuff,” explained Dr. Freeman.
Oxford VR has already tested Nic on humans and the results seem extremely promising so far. One participant told Business Insider that the experience was incredibly realistic and that “it is amazing actually how your emotions take over.”
“The beauty of VR in all of this is that people know it’s not real, and therefore they’re much more likely to try a thing,” said Dr. Freeman about the benefits of the program, adding that “some people really do not want to see a therapist.” For them, tech comes to the rescue. #realitymagic