Psychological treatment of patients to reduce and eventually eliminate their phobias is one of the more recent applications of AR in healthcare.
Once simplistically regarded as tools for entertainment and other frivolous purposes, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have recently found applications in several diverse sectors. While VR can be effectively utilized to remotely maneuver robots and treat patients with mental conditions such as schizophrenia, AR can assist law enforcement in smart cities and enable the virtual demonstration of new drugs by pharmaceutical companies. Both VR and AR are capable of performing many of each other's tasks too.
The involvement of AR in healthcare to improve mental and physical care is not a far-fetched objective. The technology can come in handy to reduce the anxiety of individuals regarding their deepest fears.
How Augmented Reality Can Be Used to Treat Phobias
AR & VR involve the overlapping of simulated imagery over real-world visuals. The famous mobile game Pokémon Go is a good example. As you may know, the game involves fictionalized creatures appearing in everyday locations on a phone screen. Such overlapping can be used for dispelling phobias too. To dispel their fears, individuals can view lifelike simulations of their entity of fear—insects, certain wild animals, specific fictional characters, or others. The lifelike imagery will let them face their fears up close. Once such exercises are carried out multiple times, they will eventually rid themselves of their respective phobias to a great extent. There have been several research studies conducted with AR devices or applications to address test subjects’ phobias in recent times.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Realiy Can Enhance Phobia TreatmentOverall, AR allows users to "maintain their distance" from their objects of fear while they interact virtually with them. On the other hand, VR provides a much deeper and more immersive experience. A combination of the two technologies can be useful to alleviate fears of great heights, deep waters or other tight spaces. While AR will enable users to blend in some of the elements in their immediate surroundings with their object or place of fear, VR transports them to another place to allow them to virtually live through their anxiety and fears momentarily. A combination of AR and VR is known as mixed reality. Mixed reality lets users experience a more interactive AR—with certain virtual objects readily movable in the simulation.
Essentially, using VR and AR in healthcare for addressing phobias involves individuals readily interacting with scary-looking entities to reduce their fears.