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Immersive VR Can Help Kids Overcome Autism Phobias

In a separate study, published in the Autism in Adulthood journal by the same team, the VR treatment was shown to be effective in autistic adults

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A hospital patient uses virtual reality treatment for pain in this undated photo. VOA

Exposing children and adults with autism to immersive virtual reality (VR) can help alleviate their fears and phobias, say researchers.

A team from the UK’s Newcastle University developed ‘Blue Room’, a virtual environment, which requires no goggles. Here a person can comfortably investigate and navigate through various scenarios working with a therapist using iPad controls but remain in full control of the situation.

“For many children and their families, anxiety can rule their lives as they try to avoid the situations which can trigger their child’s fears or phobias,” said Professor Jeremy Parr from Newcastle’s Institute of Neuroscience.

“To be able to offer a treatment that works, and see the children do so well, offers hope to families who have very few treatment options for anxiety available to them,” Parr added.

Autism can affect a child’s learning and development, often resulting in impaired social and communication skills and many also have fears or phobias which can be very distressing but are often overlooked.

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Toybox founder Arlene Mulder views a project that their tech innovation hub was involved in, a Virtual Reality exhibition at a Johannesburg art gallery. VOA

For the study, detailed in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the team involved a small group of children with autism aged 8-14 years. Half received treatment in the ‘Blue Room’ straight away and half acted as a control group, receiving delayed treatment six months later.

“People with autism can find imagining a scene difficult which is why the ‘Blue Room’ is so well-received. We are providing the feared situation in a controlled way through VR and we are sitting alongside them to help them learn how to manage their fears,” explained Morag Maskey, researcher from Newcastle.

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The results showed that overall 40 per cent of children treated showed improvement at two weeks, and 45 per cent at six months.

In a separate study, published in the Autism in Adulthood journal by the same team, the VR treatment was shown to be effective in autistic adults. (IANS)

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Facebook’s VR Dream May not Take off, Says Oculus co-founder

Facebook recently unveiled “Oculus Rift S”, a new version of its PC headset Oculus Rift, for $399

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FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

Facebook-acquired Virtual Reality (VR) firm Oculus may not be profitable as the social networking giant is struggling to bring VR to the mainstream consumer market, says Jack McCauley, one of the co-founders of Oculus.

According to a report in CNBC late Sunday, with Facebook positioning its VR-based Oculus devices primarily as gaming machines, McCauley does not believe there is much of a market for the device.

“There are a lot of fundamental issues that remain unsolved with VR gaming,” said the Oculus Co-founder who stayed through Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of the company in March 2014.

Virtual Reality Glasses.
Pixabay

McCauley mentioned how people still get nauseated when they put on a VR headset and how they still prefer to play video games alongside their friends on a 2D display.

Facebook announced VR headset called “Oculus Go” at a starting price of $199 in October 2017. The $199 Oculus Go has sold a little more than 2 million units, according to market research firm SuperData.

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The “Oculus Quest”, which was made available in May this year, has sold nearly 1.1 million units while the Oculus Rift has sold 547,000 units, said the report.

Facebook recently unveiled “Oculus Rift S”, a new version of its PC headset Oculus Rift, for $399. (IANS)