In the second article of our expert insight series into managing and understanding the impact of enterprise stress, we take a look at some of the exciting advancements in technology which could help mitigate the impact of workplace stress.
(Recap here on the physical impacts of stress and the real-world consequences for organisations.)
VR and immersive technologies are emerging as one interesting way to manage stress.
We recently visited Immersion, a digital health laboratory based in Jersey and met with consultant cardiologist Dr Andrew Mitchell and VR expert technologist Dr Austin Gibbs to investigate using immersive technologies to treat and manage stress across the enterprise.
What is VR and Immersive Technology?
Immersion defines it as “the application of devices that blur the line between the physical world and digital or simulated world, thereby creating a sense of immersion.”
Virtual Reality (VR) is a completely immersive experience in which users are taken from their real-world surroundings and placed virtually into an entirely new digital environment.
Augmented Reality (AR), users can still see the environment around them, but digital content is overlaid into their space.
Immersive technology encompasses innovations that bridge the gap between machines and the human mind. Artificial intelligence, where the machine is constructed to respond like the mind, and extended reality, where the machine influences the perceptions of the mind.
VR and Healthcare
The digital health lab conducts research into how these immersive technologies can be used to impact the delivery of healthcare across a wide range of areas.
One area they are currently examining is VR’s ability to generate physiological effects, in particular to stimulate a stress response.
By giving the sensations of emotional states whilst maintaining the therapeutic window to connect with the person, VR could open up a wide variety of implementations in healthcare, for example:
- Distraction and exposure – distracting a person’s attention away from something unpleasant, such as pain or traumatic thoughts and be immersed in a calm virtual environment. It can also provide effective therapy for specific phobias or PTSD.
- Motivation and engagement – encouraging people to engage in a treatment such as physiotherapy by making a virtual game fun or competitive, or can provide new perspectives such as going on a tour of the human body and seeing lung damage from smoking, giving an emotional component to lifestyle advice.