Doctor Cyril Rous,  doctor of psychology, and practitioner of about 10 years had decided to modernize his place of work and took a surprising step endowing it with a VR system (Virtual Reality) system en psychologie. He hence called us to take care of the setup. Report.

Goals of VR

A decade after the revolutions brought by social networks in our lives, 2 new technologies seem about to kick our daily habits : 3D printing on the first hand – aimed at satisfying aficionados of the “right away philosophy”, which enables you to print the content of your cart in your living room rather than getting it delivered by a drone – and VR.

The interview

Rollandev: Doctor Rous, a VR system seems to be quite an usual investment for a pshychologist office, what are your expectations regarding the modernisation of your office ?

Doctor Rous: that is indeed quite unusual but makes the office a pioneer in Nice. The methods need to evolve and adapt themselves to the new society. Virtual reality in psychiatry and psychology stands for a major technology in XXIth century in service of therapies for anxious disorders (phobias, social phobias, anxious, OCD), addictions and feeding disorders.

Rv: What sort of disorder can we expect to cure using VR ?

Meta analysis conducted by clinics and available on PubMed or ScienceDirect prove efficiency of the virtual reality in psychotherapies for those disorders :

  • Dysmorphophobie
  • Alcohol and tobacco addictions
  • Arachnophobia, Phobia of doves, dogs ad cats
  • Belenophobia, Agoraphobia, Acrophobia, Claustrophobia, Glossophobia, Ochlophobia and behaviour

We can also relax and entertain depressive patients.

Rv: How do you think you patients will react to that new kind of therapy ?

In close relation with C2Care labs, I think first of curiosity. It should be kept in mind that it’s not a game but a therapy.

Rollandev : Thanks Doc, now, let’s get started !

Entrons dans la VR

Hardware

The system is composed of two mains things : a powerful computer, to run softwares and games, which configuration was designed on purpose and assembled on premise, and the HTC Vice.

PC :

The monster being assembled :

Nothing peculiar about the PC, care was taken regarding the setup of the fans (mainly because of the number) in order to create an efficient air flow and cool components in an optimal way. Indeed, an incorrect setup might result in an inefficient flow and even the opposed result than whats is expected.

HTC Vive :

The HTC Vice is the main element of this VR system. The unpacking was a pleasure, each element is individually wrapped. The whole has a big taste of quality.

A set of elements is quite apart from the rest :

  • A headset
  • 2 “remotes”

which are quite obviusly the main elements the use will handle to get immersed in the virtual reality.

Besides, a pair of sensors, meant to be set high and a controller are among the devices of the kit.

 

Once everything has been set up (OS, drivers, tools, calibration of sensors, VR surface, the fun part can get started. And now, the show.

VR in practice

Results are absolutely bluffing ! Immersion is immediate, a tutorial provided by a virtual flying robot gets you started as soon as you put the Vive on your head. Earphones are provided to cut you from reality.

Getting started

In the fact, you are standing, with the headset, and the remotes in your hands. Those latter embed gyroscopes and sensors to detect the position of your thumbs and display virtual hands in the immersion. That fake proprioception increases the immersion feeling.

What you see

No word can describe it. This video will give you a preview of the rendering.

Still, the best way is to experience it by yourself.

What you feel

Once more, hard to describe. The balance is fooled, and you feel cut from the reality instantly. Perspectives and distances seem both real and surprising.

In a few seconds, you get into a world where you can teleport or walk above the void  !

Graphical

The quality is clearly there.  1070GTX are doing an amazing job, and unlike the fears or alternative devices, HTC Vive gives no seasick feeling.

Sound

VR would not be the same thing if it was only for the graphical part. Speeches and noises depend on your position and your movements. Turn your head, and you will be able to say that the person speaking is behin you.

Conclusions

Alternatives

There are of course other similar devices. Unthinkable that such a cutting edge as the HTC Vive device would be designed starting from scratch :

  • Oculus Rift : the system that got the VR on the scene. Limits are easily reached, even though softwares and games offers are developing fast, graphical quality is not there.
  • Sony VR : unavoidable for game station vendor, VR hardly seduced Playstations users, quality is still behind what other systems can offer and the immersion feeling is far from the Vive mostly because of the controllers (gamepad vs remotes).
  • Google Cardboard : the intention was lovely, bring to everyone an opportunity to taste VR (those who have a Smartphone). If the experience is funny, no need to say that a pocket sized device will not compete a whole dedicated system.

So, what makes the HTC Vive so different ? A couple of essential things :

  1. HTC Vive is the only one to offer room scaled VR. Where other systems keep you in your couch, Vive gets you moving and standing in a natural fashion, all used to improve your VR experience.
  2. Possibilities : Oculus Rift and its SDK make expect that many softwares will be developed in a near future, but Vive scores again thanks to its many sensors that let imagine great uses.
  3. Overall quality : the device uses an HDMI port, and you get, … HD rendering. No pixel, no polygons, but nice and realistic surfaces, or HD pictures.
  4. Promise : HTC is a major actor of the digital world. Vive will undoubtly be a first quality choice for the upcoming years.

Other application domains

For a psychologist office, VR will allow to cure phobias or offer alternatives to classical therapies, but still, VR has a wide domain of applications, some already used by other devices :

  • Visiting apartments : you have a real estate agency ? Get your customers to visit not yet built properties or those far away directly from your office.
  • Sports : definding a castle with a bow ? Possible ! Become racing champion ? Possible too !
  • Impossible experiences : fly, teleport, walk over water or void, jump into a volcano.
  • Playroom : down with classical video games, make room for VR.
  • Architecture : redesign your apartment, and admire the result without moving any furniture.
  • Visit the world : play golf at the bottom of the Gizeh Sphinx and slide on Bankso ski tracks during the same day get possible. You dream of a trip to Thailand or Alaska ? Pay yourself a preview before booking your tickets.

And you, what is your profession ? What do you think VR could improve ? Don’t be shy and give us your thoughts !