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VIRTUAL REALITY Hi-tech Embraced by Manufacturers & Therapists
January 14, 2007 1:13 AM   Subscribe

VIRTUAL REALITY Hi-tech Being Embraced by Manufacturers & Therapists
Long a darling of the military, aviation and video-game industries, virtual reality is being embraced by more businesses as the falling cost of computer power makes it more affordable. Manufacturers of farm equipment, car seats, mufflers and other products have joined automakers and aircraft manufacturers in using the technology to speed up and improve product design, train workers and configure factories and stores.
THERAPY: Overcoming trauma through virtual reality
posted by Bodyguard (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Oversize wrap-around sunglasses on pot-bellied comb-over men. Check. Milling about aimlessly while they jabber on about wonderous things they're seeing in their head. Check. It's like an afternoon with my father-in-law.

Seriously, I get the concept. Maybe you're in a virtual cockpit of a 747 learning the controls and utilizing VR saves the company time and money over the real thing. But every demonstration photo I've seen shows a relaxed subject in a mannequin pose dreamily reaching for something. Does this stilted physical behavior become an unfortunate artifact of the learning process and carry over when a real-world, lightning-fast response is required?
posted by hal9k at 2:34 AM on January 14, 2007


As to using VR Therapy for my own PTSD, I doubt there is enough computing power in the world to realistically spline all the blood required for a meaningful session. It would be a YouTube version at best while the unedited cut loops on Blu-Ray at the Max in my head.

I like that they include smell (fire and smoke) for the WTC sufferer and that's a very good start. He could also have been standing next to a Greek restaurant and by such olfactory omission the therapy lacks depth.

After many physical visits to my own personal ground zero, it took being there in spring on the anniversary that forced epiphany. It wasn't a solution and I'm not "cured" but I took it as the small reward of finding a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Except now when I smell rhododendrons I practically shit my pants on cue.
posted by hal9k at 3:44 AM on January 14, 2007


hal9k: Your own counterexamples expose how this technique works, even without the truly immersive capability. You don't need the whole experience to bring back a vivid memory, as you point out with your greek restaurant example, or as illustrated by the case of people who have flashback experiences when they hear fireworks.

But while I think it's clear that this kind of technique does "work", in the sense that it can lead people to "revisit" the experience, your final para leads me to wonder at the gee-whiz wonder with which stories. Because without a lot more work, the catharsis might well do damage, not help. [Obligatory: Us crazy Americans, always lookin' for that quick fix...]

W.r.t. your first comment: I wonder if that langorousness of gesture is a function primarily of the computing power in the demo environments. I would think that production environments would have to be real-time-speed in order to have a prayer of working -- and that aircraft manufacturers and airlines wouldn't use them if they weren't.
posted by lodurr at 7:29 AM on January 14, 2007


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posted by Smart Dalek at 8:44 AM on January 14, 2007


People interested how virtual reality is being used in medicine should check out the conference Medicine Meet Virtual Reality (now in it's 15th year).
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:34 AM on January 14, 2007


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