ResearchVR Podcast - The Science of Virtual Reality

016 - "Fear runs deep": exposure therapeutic experiences with Fearless

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What is Fearless?

Co-founded by the current CEO Tim Suzman, our guest, Fearless is a VR application to overcome fears, such as spiders, snakes, needles, or any other. It is based on the concept of Exposure therapy, otherwise also known as Systematic Desensitization. In core, this method is about going from marginal to greater and greater exposure to the object of fear.

Unique features of fearless

Most of the exposure therapies are In Vivo: if you are scared of heights, you go for a field trip with your doctor somewhere very high.

Fearless is based on the same concept, but instead of brining the object of fear in real life, it uses VR to build exposure scenarios.

Advantages:

  • scenarios not possible in RW, e.g. a cartoon spider in 3D environment
  • train at home without psychologist there at all times

The key feature of exposure therapy is Exposure Hierarchy: dividing the particular fear type into what is the final fear and what are smaller versions of it. After building a universal hierarchy for a specific fear type, it can be further customization for each user. Parameters include things like size, proximity, number, speed, realism, etc.

Roadmap of therapeutic experiences

Currently Support for GearVR & Rift is available. However, already running on Cardboard & Vive, but those two are still in house and need just few more adjustments before release.

The whole idea is based on the fast field of research on exposure therapy, but considering VR is a new medium, clinical tests are already planned. The goal is to compare VR to classical exposure therapies.

Contact

Thanks everyone for tuning in to another episode of ResearchVR. Hope you enjoyed listening to it and learned something new.

Thanks to Tim Suzman from Fearless for sharing his expertise with us and our listeners.

If you would like to hear more from Fearless, or request an app for your fears, do not hesitate to contact them: tim@fearlessvr.com and fearlessvr.com.

Topic Suggestions, Guest Invites, and all other all feedback are helpful! Feel free to contact us under researchvrcast@gmail.com or via twitter

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Special thanks to Mellody Strahan, our new intern, for post-processing audio for this episode. Welcome to ResearchVR family, Mellody!

Special thanks to Nerses Balabanian for the intro and outro music! Find him at here


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About this podcast

We are three Cognitive Scientists discussing Virtual Reality and Cognitive Research, Industry News, and Design Implications! We actively research different aspects of the field, and are involved in various companies related to the topic of VR. With this podcast, we hope to use our commentary to bridge the gap between news and established science. We break down complex topics, discuss the current trends and their economical impacts, and broadcast our views on VR. Tune in and enjoy!

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by Petr, Az, and Chris

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