Elevating solution

Published: Tuesday 30 April 1996

Scientists have started using virtual reality (VR) methods for various psychiatric therapies. Proposed by Hans Sieburg, a professor of psychiatry and mathematics at the University of California at San Diego, US, VR cures are being hatched for sex offenders, acrophobia (morbid fear of heights) and flying-phobia. Doctors report maximum success with acrophobia. The treatment formula consisted of a VR software and a helmet with cartoonlike visual display. The VR environment included a virtuafhotel with open elevators which took the patients up to 49 stories with series of ever scarier balconies. After several weeks, most reported a dramatic drop in anxiety concerning heights. The US army and the Boeing Computer Services are working on aVR helicopter soft. ware that will induce real flying, whirring and vibrating sensations. Though scientists are not sure of the long-term effects of VR, it seems that the new line of therapy is here to stay.

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