RESEARCH

The term Virtual Reality (VR) is used by many different people with many meanings. For example, there's some people to whom VR is a specific collection of technologies, a Head Mounted Display, Glove Input Device and Audio. To others, VR is a way for humans to visualize, manipulate and interact with computers and extremely complex data. The visulualization part refers to the computer generating visual, auditory or other sensual outputs to the user of a world within the computer. This world may be a CAD model, a scientific simulation, or a view into a database. The user can interact with the world and directly manipulate objects within the world. Some worlds are animated by other processes, perhaps physical simulations, or simple animation scripts. Interaction with the virtual world, at least with near real time control of the viewpoint.

APPLICATIONS

The applications developed for VR run a wide spectrum, from games to architectural and business planning. Many applications are worlds that are very similar to our own, like CAD or architectural modeling. Some applications provide ways of viewing from an advantageous perspective not possible with the real world.


TYPES OF VR SYSTEMS

1) WINDOW on WORLD systems (WoW):

Some systems use a conventional monitor to display the visual world. This is called Desktop VR or a Window on a World. This concept traces its lineage back through the entire history of computer graphics. In 1965, Ivan Sutherland laid out a research program for computer graphics in a paper called "The Ultimate Display" that has driven the field for the past nearly 30 years. According to Sutherland, "One must look at a display screen as a window through which one beholds a virtual world. The challenge to computer graphics is to make the picture in the window look real, sound real and act real.

2) Video Mapping:

A variation of the WoW approach , merges a video input of the user's silhoulette with a 2D computer graphic. The user watches a monitor that shows his body's interaction with the world. The Mandala system is based on a Commodore Amiga with some added hardware and software. A version of the Mandala is used by the cable TV channel Nickolodeon for a game show (Nick Arcade) to put the contestants into what appears to be a large video game.

3) Immersion System:

The ultimate VR systems completely immerse the user's personal viewpoint inside the virtual world. Often equipped with a Head Mounted Diplay (HMD). This a helmut or a face mask that holds the visual and auditory displays. The helmut may be free ranging, tethered, or it might be attached to some sort of a boom armature. A nice variation of the immersive systems use multiple large projection displays to create a 'CAVE' or room in which the viewer(s) stand. An early implementation was called "The Closed Cathedral" for the ability to create the impression of an immerse environment within a small physical space. The Holodeck used in the television series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is afar term extrapolation of this technology.

4) Teleprescence:

A variation on visulualizing complete computer generated worlds. This is a technology links remote sensors in the real world with the senses of a human operator. The remote sensors might be located on a robot, or they might be on the ends of Waldo like tools. Fire fighters use remotely operated vechicles to handle some dangerous conditions. Surgeons are using very small instruments on cables to do surgery without cutting a major hole in their patients. The instruments have a small video camera at the business end.

5) Mixed Reality:

Merged the Teleprecence and VR systems give the mixed reality or seamless simulation systems. Here the computer genrated inputs are merged with teleprescence inputs and/or the user's view of the real world. A surgeon's view of a brain surgery is overlaid with images from earlier Catscans and real-time ultra sound. A fighter pilot sees computer generated maps and data displays inside his fancy helmut visor or on cockpit displays.

6) Fish Tank VR:

Combines a stereoscopic monitor display using LCD shutter glasses with a mechanical head tracker. The resulting systems is superior to simple-WoW systems due to the motion parallax efforts introduced by the head tracker.


What People Are Doing With VR:

Medicine-Surgeons are using it to practice difficult operations that are dangerous for the patients.

Industry-Companies are increasing their global competitiveness by using virtual environments to design equiptments, pesiticides, even drugs, faster and better.

Education-Bringing exciting new resources into the classroom. Students learn anatomy on a simulated cadaver, or monitor financial trends, all in VR.


HARWARE:

HEAD MOUNTED DISPLAY

These use some sort of helmut or goggles to place small video displays in front of each eye, with special optics to focus and stretch the perceived field of view. Most HMD's use two displays and provide stereoscopic imaging. Others use a single larger display to provide higher resolution.

ENTRANCE LEVEL: IMMERSION VR

System adds some type immersion display system: a HMD, a Boom, or multiple large projection type displays (CAVE). An IVR system might also add some form of tactile, haptic and touch feedback interaction mechanisms. The area of touch or force feedback (known collectively as Haptics) is a very new research area.

CAVE

The Cave encompasses an entire room. Here, stereoscopic images are projected onto the walls and floor. Put on special stereoscopic glasses and headphones, then "climb" or "fly" through rich, 3D images enhanced by sounds. The images, sounds, and other sensory signals are continually updated to match your changing perspective.


TECHNOLOGY PROPOSAL:

Using the technology of Virtual Reality to treat people who suffer from clinical depression. This is a psychiatric disorder characterized by feelings of worthlessness, guilt, sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness. The type Of VR system to be used will be the IMMERSION VR, so that patients can take a more active role in their treatment and recovery.

Clinical Depression:

Clinical depression is a medical illness similar to pneumonia that even the strongest person cannot overcome without treatment. It is similar to heart disease and cancer in that all of us have a susceptibility to each. CD is a very common illness that effects approximately 3-5% of the population at any one time. There is a 20% chance of having an episode of clinical depression at some point in one's life. The percentages are similar for the general population and college students.

Medication-There are many effective medications, but the three types of drugs most often used to treat depression are tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors and lithium. Lithium is very effective in the treatment of disorder depression. All medications alter the action of brain chemicals to improve mood, sleep, appetite, energy levels and concentation. Different people may need different medications, and sometimes more than one medication is needed to treat clinical depression.

In psychiatry, two major forms of depressive disorders are recognized. In both, the predominant symptom is a disturbance in mood. Unipolar Depression-Marked by episodes of depression. A depressed mood predominates, although the patient may not be aware of feeling sad. Typically, he or she loses all interests in and withdraws from usual activities. Bipolar Depression-The Manic Phase, the patient's mood can be elevated, expansive, or irritable. Behavior is bizarre and sometimes obnoxious.

PSYCHOTHERAPY: FINDING THE ROOT EMOTIONAL CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

This is the treatment of psychological distress with techniques that rely heavily on verbal communication and other symbolic behavior. It is conducted by a psychotherapist who is specially trained and licensed. Theories are explored about the sources of distress and the methods needed to alleviate it. The Therapist's personality influences the patient--ideally inspiring hope and trust to achieve therapeutic ends.

BEHAVIOR THERAPY AND VR:

Behavior therapy is the application of the methods of experimental psychology to the problems of an individual who comes for treatment. They focus on the behavior that is causing distress for their clients. They believe that behavior of all kinds, normal and maladaptive, is learned according to specific principles (an example of such a psychologist was B.F. Skinner). They begin treatment by finding out as much as they can about the client's problem and the circumstances surrounding it. Immersion VR can be used as a tool to observe behavior and the patient's reaction to certain circumstances of their daily lives or the past. Sessions and exercises can be designed by the therapist with cooperation and permision from the patient to discover root emotional problems in their behavior or thought life that causes the depression. The technology can make it possible while at the same time the treatment allows to patient to interact more and take action for themselves, since most people who suffer from depression do nothing but withdraw from people and themselves. Once inner feelings are addressed or indentified, perhaps a stage of self-acceptance to one's life can allow for growth and change. Carl Jung attempted to help patients recognize their own inner resources for growth and for dealing with conflict.Techniques for solving immediate problems are varied and pragmatic. Why not use VR technology? It will not change anything fundamental to psychotherapy, for it will only offer additional aid. The Therapist's job is to reeducate their patients-to convince them of their errors and to encourage them to develop more social interest and this can be done with Immersion VR. Typically the patient feels helpless and does nothing but dwell on the feelings of helplessness. This offers them, with proper supervision, to take action in the VR setup. The technology can create scenarios and scenes from everday life to the personal surroundings of each individual's life. Action can be taken, issues pointed out, feelings confronted, all from the vivid imagination of patient and counselor. Just as VR technology aids in training youth to drive or operate machinery through a virtual simulation, people can be trained or encouraged to a recovery from the severity of emotions caused by depression.


DISCLAIMER:

This technology proposal makes no suggestions that the current treatment for depression is all wrong and inappropiate. Rather, this proposal offers an addition to the few options for patients who suffer from depression. Not patients suffer depression because of genetics or a chemical imbalance, therefore this treatment can be advantageous for them. The depressive disorders are among the most treatable in psychiatry. The usual treatment in modern practice involves administration of a drug and/or supportive psychotherapy. This proposal wishes to combine the elements of psychotherapy with the technology of IMMERSION VR, in order to treat patients who do not need antidepressant drugs.

Depression is without a doubt, a serious illness. It really has to be treated intelligently and with sensitivity. Issues have to be ascertained as to what causes depression in every individual. And then the best course of action taken, this proposal does not call an end to medications or arguments over the best approach to psychotherapy. Rather, it calls for the addition of virtual reality technology to be just one more tool and cure clinical depression. VR technology will have found a true partner in psychotherapy.

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