Conquer Your Fear of Creepy Crawlies With Augmented RealityS

A lot of augmented reality applications we've seen thus far have seemed a little, well, excessive. But if AR can put me at peace with spiders, snakes, cockroaches, and the rest? That's a feat deserving of a Nobel Prize.

In a study described in an upcoming edition of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, six female participants, all of whom were totally freaked out by cockroaches in real life, were outfitted with AR helmets and bombarded with simulated cockroaches. They were all still totally freaked out, just like they would be if confronted with the real things. That's as far as the study got.

But it's an important first step in applying augmented reality to exposure therapy, a technique by which individuals overcome phobias through exposure to the objects they fear. Similar techniques have been used for years to treat returning soldiers' Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with virtual reality video games, and this study only shows that in some less extreme cases simulated stimuli can induce fear just like the real thing. But if AR exposure therapy proves to be effective, it could help countless individuals work past their everyday hang-ups: heights, enclosed spaces, subways, rats, dogs, bugs, and the rest. Maybe I'll finally be able to leave my apartment. [Neoacademic via Slashdot