By virtue of its deeply immersive nature, virtual reality (VR) brought us a new level of fascination and enticement in gaming and interactive 3D movie experience. Additionally, VR is being used to teach, train and bring knowledge to a wide audience on a wide range of topics. Previously, we examined how one company is using VR to train operators in high voltage switching, a potentially dangerous operation. Today, let’s take a look how an initiative in Sweden hopes to encourage children, some suffering anxiety and fear of water, to take the plunge with the help of virtual reality.
According to a new initiative launched by the Swedish Swimming Federation, one fifth of children in Sweden are unable to swim. The organization is trying out a new technique to help encourage children who may be reluctant to enter the water, either due to unfamiliarity or because of a genuine fear.
Launched in conjunction with energy giant E.ON, the program is designed as a form of ‘VR exposure therapy’, a psychological technique used in the treatment of phobias. The experience attunes the children’s visual and aural senses to the feel of being underwater first, and trains the children in simulated breathing techniques. The 360 film also features members of the Swedish national swim team.
Psychologist Philip Lindner tells the viewers, “Shorter exposure can help people experience fun things they’ve previously missed out on, and create motivation to change.” Similar VR simulations could be used to address a whole variety of phobias, and provide exposure in a controlled, safe environment to the viewers.
As part of the program, Sweden offers children a free pair of VR goggles to accommodate the experience. You can find the Swedish website dedicated to the program at the following link:
An English language website with videos and links can be found here:
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