XR Psychiatry
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XR Psychiatry

Ready Player Two — the power of XR simulators

When I was a kid, I always had to wait my turn to play video games. My sisters had ownership of our computer, and when we got a Nintendo 8-bit gaming console I was always player two.

As frustrating as it was, it gave me an advantage. While waiting my turn, I would watch my sisters and older cousins play, thus having seen the enire course before I had to face it my self.

I saw their challanges, I saw their strategies and I could advance much faster because of it.

Virtual mistakes, better than real ones

When it comes to virtual reality and mixed reality, it is the optimal tool for taking advantage of being “player two”.

While it is difficult to simulate all aspects of a real life scenario, a lot of aspects can be simulated with today’s mixed reality technology.

Health care, a place where simulations are a matter of life and death

In health care, simulations are a must. Every hospital has a simulation center that prepares teams (e.g. surgery, ER, ICU) for scenarios. Doing these drills keeps teams on their toes and exposes strenghts and weaknesses in communication, routines and group dynamics. During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and subsequent COVID-19, health care staff were faced with a whole new scenario. Many hospitals had to form new teams, draft nurses and doctors from other fields and those that had been retired or not active for a long time. Simulations became a key for preperation.

For the past decade, this has also been executed in virtual worlds that allow a lot more advanced settings and more realistic cases.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
immERge — CPR simulator

Deja Vu, for saftey

XR has been used saftey increases in the construction industry quite frequently for the past 5 years. Hardware such as HoloLens (and Daqri before it was dismantled) has been used to make communication clearer on construction sites.

Saftey onboarding has also been transformed, and is now more and more a set of 360 videos and VR tutorials in factories and construction sites, saving both money, time and lives.

You remember what you did better than what you read

In the study Assessing Knowledge Retention of an Immersive Serious Game vs. a Traditional Education Method in Aviation Safety.
Chittaro L, Buttussi F. (2015) the authors saw that learning and experiencing plane crash routines/scenarios in VR lead to a more accurate and long lasting account of saftey routines than just reading instructions and visualising scenarios.

Knowing this, XR might become a greater part in all types of education which depends on both practical and theoretical aspects.

Simulators are not new, but the way we use them are

Flight simulators, farm simulators, car simulators, learning things through simulation is nothing new. We have done it for decades, if not centuries.

However, it is via XR technology that we are able to do more than just simulate interactions with inanimate scenarios and do more complex simulations, such as de-escalation training.

If you’ve never been in a conflict, or met a conflict prone person with violent tendencies, how do you de-escalate a situation? How to you prevent harm, to your self, and to others?

My latest research has been in to violence prevention simulators, focusing on non-violent de-escalation.

I’ve found some amazing 1995 articles and notes from the FBI’s bulletin archive and am currently working with a new simulator created by former prison wardens, sociologists and forensic psychiatrists who saw a need for a new way of using AI and de-escalation training.

Creating complex scenarios, avatars that react to voice, movement and body language can lead to better law enforcement, sociology, psychiatry and forensic psychiatry educations.

But it’s not the same

There are aspects of the natural world hard to simulate. When I let children do “street crossing” simulators to test their reaction to danger, most kids throw them selves in front of the car to see what happens. They would NOT do that in real life. Our sense of danger is limited in virtual worlds, but the skills we can gain through them are far from limited and contained in VR.

One day, we will have more accurate, less bulky and cheaper haptic feedback to help us make it more realistic. I look forward to that day.



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