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Stanford University Trialing Phobia Reducing VR

VRFocus has previously reported on how virtual reality (VR) is being used in medicine for training purposes, and even  for people with alcohol dependency. Now Stanford University is looking at how VR can possibly be utilised to over come fears and phobias.

The Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University is using an Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) for educational purposes, testing the possibility of using the technology to help people overcome certain fears or for learning empathy.

USA Today went to the university to try out the simulation for walking across a deep pit. The site describes an experience in which the virtual floor beneath the user disappears, leaving them on a narrow wooden plank above a pit. The idea behind the experience is to replicate the phobias one would experience when faced with this situation in real life.

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Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of the Stanford lab said of the experience: “We study the transfer effects — how does an intense virtual reality experience change the way you think of yourself and others?”

In another one of Stanford Universities simulations, viewers are presented with an audience of avatars keeping fixed stares on the viewer as they walk around the room, the goal being to help people uncomfortable with public speaking.

VRFocus will be following any further updates from Stanford University on this VR project in the future.