VR Helps With Fear Of Heights

You may think that your climbing gym can help people get over their fear of heights but technology is proving to be even more successful.

Six University of Washington students have developed a virtual reality (VR) rock climbing game to study how users experience the fear of heights and help them get over it.

The game incorporates three levels of rock climbing, increasing in difficulty according to Geek Wire. The first level is a simple procedure of climbing from one block to another without being stuck in one place. The second level includes different elevations and mountains to climb through, making it easier for the user to fall down. The third level involves challenging swinging techniques needed to reach to the top of the climbing wall.

“Most of the participants said it was really immersive, in the sense that they were actually feeling like they were climbing a mountain,” said project developer and video producer Jeewon Ha.

“The gap between level two and three was so big that barely anyone passed through level three,” said Ha.

Once a user is no longer able to grab onto the rocks, they feel the sensation of falling down, which ends the game.

“Most people avoid the thing they’re afraid of,” Dr. Hunter Hoffman, Director of the Virtual Reality Research Center at the Human Photonics Lab at the University of Washington said. “The nice thing about virtual reality is that people are more willing to go closer to their fears.”

“Therapists use experiences like this to help with phobia of heights, water, and other exposure therapies,” game designer Muhammad Hussain said. “When you think of immersive experiences, you think of virtual reality. It kind of speaks for itself.”

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