In the past years we have experimented at the intersection of VR and mental health and developed a wide range of research prototypes. Some of these prototypes were further polished and extended into full-functional standalone VR apps. You can find a short description of each completed project in the following sections.
Our applications are based on hands-on applied research projects at the Department of Psychology of the University of Freiburg (Germany). In our applications we combine scientific evidence regarding VR, biofeedback and digital mental health. During our Ph.D studies, we conducted a series of controlled experiments and field studies and published our findings in international peer-reviewed journals.A Mobile VR-Based Respiratory Biofeedback Game to Foster Diaphragmatic Breathing (2020)Development and Pilot Test of a Virtual Reality Respiratory Biofeedback Approach (2020)Design and Evaluation of a Virtual Restorative Walk with Room-Scale Virtual Reality and Impossible Spaces (2020)Combining VR and Biofeedback: The Effects on Presence and Perceived Restorativeness (2019)Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback Based on Slow-Paced Breathing with Immersive Virtual Reality Nature Scenery (2019)Virtual Reality in the Application of Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (2019)
Resonio is a heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback and represents the product of several scientific studies and research prototypes. It interfaces in real-time with an external heart rate monitor and lets the user experience the tiny variations of her or his heartbeats, as they occur. Users can experiment with their breathing rhythm and observe the resulting changes to their HRV. The feedback is directly embedded in the environment and additionally presented via haptic and auditory cues. The nature environments are designed in accordance with the Attention Restoration Theory (e.g., Kaplan, 1989) to support relaxation and task focus. Evidence from two lab studies shows a strong effect on HRV, relaxation, attention and motivation.
Fearless provides playful challenges to tackle common fears. Among others, users can try to overcome their fear of heights or face a giant spider. The experience allows for an optional integration of the users’ heartbeat in real-time, thus directly feeding back a common measure of acute arousal (which may improve after repeated exposure). The roomscale locomotion mechanic intelligently adapts to various play-areas and represents an intuitive way to navigate the virtual environment, especially for newcomers.
Soulpaint creates an inspiring environment to freely express inner images and emotions through an intuitive painting mechanism. A large choice of canvases and colors allows for infinite possibilities to explore one’s creativity. Soulpaint features a haptic painting process which closely mimics real painting in a slow-paced roomscale experience.
Stepwise revives the ancient practice of walking meditation in a novel way. Owing to the innovative roomscale locomotion algorithm which embraces the concept of impossible spaces, users can walk near infinite distances in the virtual environment - while in reality, they just walk back and forth in a relatively confined area. Stepwise invites users to practise mindful walks in a virtual world which was deliberately designed to be abstract and minimalistic.