I just found an interesdting article in a german online newspaper, about two Czech scientist, working on a virtual pub, as a help tool in alcohol addiction treatment.
The article is in german, but - with the help of google translator, I did a quick translation for you, because I think, it's an interesting article, about a very serious use of VR - although the team do not (yet???) use the Oculus Rift...
" Alcohol therapy from Pilsen: Endurance test on the virtual counter
For some Czechs the inn is the second living room, but too often the evening ends in delirium: Alcoholism is a serious problem. Now researchers are developing a virtual pub. At the counter addicts should pass the acid test.
The Inn is an indispensable part of life in the Czech Republic: Here began the adventures of the brave and hard-drinking "Good soldier Svejk". Here college professors, hipsters and construction workers sit together under a smoke dome and finish the working day. Sounds like egalitarian comfort, but also carries a risk: It is estimated that one out of eight men in the Czech Republic is dependent on alcohol or drinking a dangerous amount of it.
Now a Bohemian tavern is in creation, which alcohol addicts should attend as part of their addiction treatment: In Pilsen, home of the bottom-fermenting beer type, two scientists are currently developing a virtual pub. Later this year it should be used in addiction therapy. There, alcoholics should learn a behaviour, that is very difficult to imagine for many Czechs: You should go to an inn, and do everything except one thing: to order beer.
Waiver with the Flight Stick
"We want to convey to the patient an environment that is intimate familiar to them," says the psychiatrist Jiří Podlipný. Alcoholics should learn to deal with something that psychologists call Craving - the irresistible craving for the drug. In the closed treatment alcoholics are not confronted with the drinker environment. Therefore Podlipný want to bring the inn into addiction clinic. His colleague Petr Horejsi created a virtual host, a bar with cheap booze and the regulars Dusan and Václav.
At the moment the pub is located on the campus of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, on the first floor of the Institute of Engineering and Management. There is the Virtual Reality Laboratory, there Horejsi works at drawn-down blinds and screen flicker. A cave is that here, says the 32-year-old programmer, a "Cave" - Computer Assisted Virtual Environment. Horejsi, black hair in Günter Netzer-style (ANNOTATION: a famous german football player) , standing in a metal cage. On his nose he wears clunky glasses, a cable leading into a computer. He looks at a canvas, 21 sensors detect his position. In his hand he holds something, that Horejsi call a Flight Stick, but looks like a scanner at the supermarket checkout. With it, he controls his movement in virtual reality.
Record consumption in the Czech Republic
What Horejsi now sees in three dimensions, is an inn, like there are tens of thousands in the Czech Republic. Wood paneling on the walls, a plasma screen - there Horejsi would like to show beer advertising in the future - a slot machine in the next room and two black panels. On it, the menu: bacon sausage with bread and mustard, pickled cheeses, lager beer for 90 cents, Pilsner Urquell for 1.20 euros.
In the Czech Republic beer is cheap and flows in vast quantities. The per capita consumption of alcohol, Czech Republic is a world leader. With approximately 16.5 liters of pure alcohol, according to WHO statistics, they drink here nearly twice as much as the global average. The average in Europe is 12.2 liters.
Psychiatrist Podlipný treat people with whom alcohol consumption became a disease. First comes detox, then withdrawal and later, the seven-week short-term therapy. In that last phase, the psychiatrists want to use the virtual pub. Patients come to the known drinker environment, that craving begins.
Such so-called "Alcohol cueing tests" are already being used in addiction treatment, as role playing or excursions with therapists. Ludwig Kraus, director of the Institute for Therapy Research in Munich, can get something of the virtual pub in Pilsen: "As a supportive measure and to acquire resistance behavior against the impending relapse, it can make sense", says Kraus.
"He will hear very unpleasant sounds"
For Podlipný, the virtual visit to the pub is mainly a safe way to put drinkers in a situation, which they will come sooner or later after release. "It's a wonderful opportunity to discuss what is going through the patient," says Podlipný.
Until the first test phase in fall will start, Horejsi must still program a lot. He wants to write interactive scripts for the visit to the pub over the semester break. The scenario: The addict goes to a meeting in the tavern, the friend is late. The host with the deep eye sockets provides a cold beer on the wooden table. If the patient refuses the beer, the host will complain, the pressure rise, the regulars Dusan and Václav will try to persuade the patient... The cave with the canvas is only the development environment. Horejsi grins boldly, when he tells of how the addicts will dive into the virtual pub. He says things like "immersion" and "True virtual reality". "The patient will also be able to touch the beer," said the programmer, "when he drinks it, the picture blurs, he will hear very unpleasant noises."
If the trial period is successful, Horejsi wants to create more variants. Depending on the preference of the patient, the host is to offer wine or liquor. The two scientists also superior to create other "drinking worlds". "The trigger for craving is dependent on the context," explains psychiatrist Podlipný. And alcoholics drink not only in Czech pubs, even in fine wine shops or at home.
So OculusVR, if you a looking, - by chance - , for a serious science project to support - here's my nomination...
Greetings from Germany,
LocomotionVR.de - Virtual reality in eMotion
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