King’s College - Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience
Set by the institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, a department that is world famous for their cutting edge research into the management and treatment of mental health problems. Their clinical psychology team were interested in the use of virtual reality simulations as a method of detecting early symptoms of Psychosis. Specifically, the project sought to recreate environments that can illicit signs of paranoid thoughts. By using the immersive qualities of virtual reality, the team at King’s college are seeking to create a new method of diagnosing early-stage psychosis. They suggest this method may be more effective than traditional pen and paper tests currently used in clinical psychology, but required a high quality simulation to test in their research.
They contacted the team at Virtualware to help develop this simulation after seeing our ground breaking work with VirtualRet – a pioneering product that enhanced exposure therapy for phobias by using virtual reality.
Virtualware worked closely with Dr Lucia Valmaggia, Dr Mar Rus-Calafell, Professor Phillipa Garety and Professor Tom Craig from the VR research group at the institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience. Using their detailed design specifications, Virtualware delivered the prototype as required by the client.
The software comprises of a manager that allows the researcher or psychologist to customize the therapies, select different scenes, and export the reports. The app has been optimized for use with the Oculus Rift and enables the user to move inside the VR environment using an Xbox controller.
The VR system consist of two phases:
- Healthy participants pilot study to validate the environment. This was completed in April 2016.
- Test the prototype with participants who experience paranoia or anxiety in social situations.
This solution enables King´s College to continue with their pioneering research into VR for the assessment and treatment of psychosis. A second project is currently being underway that designed for testing with teenage participants.