Virtual reality as of late has been closely linked with the phone and video game industries. However, a Japanese tech startup is using the platform for something different: stress management.
Part VR headset, part brain monitor, DG Lab'sBrainwave VR headset comes equipped with built-in electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, which measure the brain's electrical activity. The headset monitors users' mental states as they view a range of visual experiences designed to reduce stress and fight anxiety. As the viewer experiences the VR kaleidoscopic imagery, the EEG results allow for on-the-fly visual adjustments to lower stress levels. During trials with 43 participants, 88 percent recorded a reduction of stress, according to DG Labs.
Another, lighter VR experiment, called the EEG Love Checker, was performed at this year's Tokyo Game Show. Participants were shown a series of images of people via the VR headset and asked to look at them without judgment. At the end of the demonstration, the Brainwave VR headset showed which person a participant was most attracted to, using readouts based on electrical responses in the brain.
It's been a huge year for VR, with the release of the HTC Vive and the Facebook-backed Oculus Rift headsets. Industry observers predict that virtual-reality products will make over $2 billion this year, and they expect the VR market to be worth $150 billionby 2020.
The EEG-reading VR headsets come in two flavours: the Air VR goggles, an inflatable waterproof headset with optional mounted EEG, and the Brainwave VR goggles, a headset with both built-in EEG and over-ear headphones as standard. Both devices offer a 150 degree viewing angle. Currently both devices are still under development. No word yet as to when they'll become available to consumers.