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Francisco Rojas - Launch Pad "PHOBOS: Phobia VR Therapy" - Week 7

FrancisRedi
Level 4
This week's discussion is about creating a new scene to replace the spider interaction of a much older scene, which to me, was really lame. In the old scene, the user had to virtually sit on the chair and look at an empty table, then wait for the not so scary spider to appear from thin air, as shown in the picture below. That is all to it; not very impressive - and it certainly won't impress the clinicians in my view as useful. I'm not sure if it is too much for the patient that it could cause a panic when suddenly appearing so closely, or if the patient is already convinced that it looks unconvincingly fake and perhaps cute.

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Not too long ago, a VR application called Arachnophobia was released and received much criticism for its improper design (many negative comments). So now we know how not to treat peoples' fear of spiders. http://kotaku.com/virtual-reality-arachnophobia-therapy-is-a-definite-nop-1780550604

In order to make a convincing treatment option for fear of spiders, the psychologists working with PsyTech came up with an experiment as follows. It involves putting spiders inside a fish bowl initially on the table top while the user/patient sits virtually from a distance. Only 1 spider is visible, while the others are hidden behind an obstructing object as shown in step 1 diagram. A headless avatar is used to embody the user in the environment.

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After the user is aware of the first spider, more spiders crawl over the obstacle revealing themselves.

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The fish bowl reveals an opening, allowing a single spider to come out toward the user but not getting too close.

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The single spider is allowed to approach the virtual hands on the table, while the other spiders come out and stop at a distance.

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Eventually, all spiders are allowed to get close to the user/patient.

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Is this a valid way to treat peoples' fear of spiders? That is the question the psychologists aim to find out soon when 100 people are used to validate this experiment. This experiment scenario is visualized in the screenshots below.

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STEP ONE

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STEP TWO

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STEP FOUR

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STEP FIVE


This scene uses a noticeably photo-realistic environment. We desire to make upcoming scenes look more real compared to our previous somewhat cartoony looking scenes, so we will upgrade those eventually. As we are designing our application mainly for high-end VR experiences, we are not yet sure if this and other scenes will do well with GearVR, but let's find out about that another day.
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