MEXICO CITY – A student at Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute has devised a way of employing the technology of virtual reality to treat people suffering from phobias.
The Sasufo platform is designed to work with Oculus Rift, Amazon’s virtual-reality headset.
Accompanying the headset is a band of sensors that monitor brain waves “to measure feelings such as stress, anxiety or fear,” Sasufo creator Adriana Martinez Estrada said.
The program was developed with input from physicians and psychiatrists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who are now conducting clinical tests of Sasufo with subjects afflicted by fear of the dark and fear of heights.
The initial results of the testing have been positive.
Martinez Estrada said that the platform immerses the patient in a simulation of a darkened room or the top of a skyscraper.
The exercise takes place in the presence of a psychiatrist who will halt the simulation – or dial back the intensity – if the brain-wave readings exceed certain parameters.
Now that the Sasufo prototype has proven itself, what remains to be done is adding refinements and specific modifications to address additional phobias, Martinez Estrada said.