Introducing Ravana Virtual Reality Therapy Project

Nowadays, Technology works magic, helping us dive to the depth of the oceans, gaze at the furthest points of the galaxies and maybe even settle down somewhere between the stars. But still, the greatest problem of all times is much closer than the unknowns in the space, it’s the problem of how our brains work and where do our minds come from.

Brain is a complex structure that has many mysteries to itself. Fortunately, technologies have been paving our way to a fine understanding of complex systems such as our brains. Thanks to neuroimaging technologies, more sophisticated invasive and non-invasive brain stimulation apparatuses, we have more access to our mysterious brain than ever. One such technology is Virtual Reality, usually consisting of a display that could render three-dimension images that could be seen from different angles. This technology seemed very promising when it first came to be noticed by psychologists about three decades ago. Nowadays, as it is with any technology, we’ve learned to make much more use of it and even dream of the ways that this technology could be used in future that could make groundbreaking breakthroughs.

Here at Ravana, we are striving to bring the firsthand technologies to Iranians. Let’s take a look at what Virtual Reality Therapy does and then discuss how we are seeking to provide these services at an international standard level to our clinical personnel in Iran and across the borders.

Exposure, voluntarily facing to the feared object, has proven to be of healing effects to many suffering from anxiety disorders and is one of the main approaches to treat these disorders. Unfortunately, exposure itself can be challenging; some exposure scenarios may be dangerous (e.g. going up a high tower to face the fear of the heights), many are not accessible easily (e.g. closed spaces for claustrophobia can be challenging to find) and last but not least, these exposure scenes are neither standardized nor replicable. We are trying to overcome all of the above issues using Virtual Reality Environments (VREs).

Our software enables the clinicians to instantly put their patients in a variety of scenes, each of which can be used to render a different stimuli in a different setting. Along the way, clinicians can monitor the patient’s steps, adjust the difficulty of the exposure (which is a feature of our software), and record subjective and objective measures of how the patient reacts to the procedure (another feature of what we produce). The clinician is always at the control of the virtual environment, able to change how it looks, how its arranged, and of course, how his/her patient is being exposed to and at what pace. We believe the more control the clinician has over his/her treatment procedure, more promising the results could be; another feature that we tried to provide the users with: Control over what their patient sees and what he/she is exposed to.

Though we are now mainly working on anxiety disorders, our mission goes well beyond that. Virtual reality platforms can be used in many novel ways, to educate, to train, to treat and of course, to entertain.  With the spread of commercial VR devices, a new medium for the media, with novelties and more realistic representations is taking its place amongst other devices. The advantages of VR, such as immersion in a virtual environment and the novelty of the represented imagery, are preferable over the traditional ways of doing training, etc. and even more effective, as suggested by many articles.

Our vision for the future of Virtual Reality is an optimistic one. This new technology has come a long way, but yet has a long run to traverse too. We estimate that soon enough, automated Virtual programs will be available to many consumers, reducing the need of actual presence to in-virtuo use of applications in homes and making the best out of our limited personal times in 21st century. The dominating force of virtual reality is a fact, happening right before our eyes, and we are determined to be a pioneer in a scene that changes all of our lives, sooner than later.