Anxiety, as a standalone condition or a part of one’s bigger mental health condition, is one of the most prevalent mental disorders amongst children and adolescence. According to World Health Organization (WHO), at least one in 13 people struggles with some form of anxiety disorder.
The advent of technology has opened up more avenues for coping with anxiety. Virtual reality, a medium that is becoming increasingly accessible, offers an immersive experience that has the potential to transport one’s mental state to a calmer place. It is this potential that I seek to explore in my virtual reality experience, A Walk in the Park (AWP).
AWP is a virtual reality experience that transports the user to an all-white flower garden, which colour fades in as he becomes calmer. At the virtual garden, the user will be welcome by a guide, in a form of a text hovering in the virtual world. There will also be a sound of bell in playing in the background. The guide will instruct the user to make a circle on the trackpad of HTC Vive’s controller as they hear the sound of the bell. As the user makes circles on the trackpad, the colour of the garden will fade in. If the user miss some circles, the colour will simply fade out a little.
More than a tool to calm one’s nerve, AWP is an exploration of what being “calm” really means. Throughout the building process, the question of what “calm” means and how calm is manifested in the physique were repeatedly asked and challenged. Is calm slower heartbeats? Slower breaths? Higher concentration ability? A mix of all the above?
Ultimately, I look forward to seeing AWP being used not only as a coping tool, but also as a platform which future researchers and developers can build onto when they seek to answer questions around the notion of calmness and healthy mental state.
Capstone Video: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XvucQFfQX33nf6UrFwyuxScV9lHvdsD7