Paris (France), 13th April 2022 – ST Engineering Antycip, Europe’s leading provider of virtual reality solutions, has created a custom-designed 180˚ cylindrical screen surface, complete with supporting mechanics, to deliver visual content to patients undergoing therapy treatment provided by UK based, XR Therapeutics.
XR Therapeutics’ unique treatment program is based on over nine years of research in immersive therapies led by Newcastle University. Within a CAVE setting, a trained therapist administers traditional CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) techniques combined with gradual immersive exposure conducted with the aid of VR technologies.
A rigid cylindrical screen system enclosed in a proprietary surrounding structure has been installed at the XRT offices in Gateshead – the entire mechanical sub-structure comes in component parts, allowing the screen display solution to be transported and easily assembled on site.
With proven success helping children and adults with autism, XRT’s aim is to roll out this program to the rest of the UK population, providing fully immersive VR environments to gently expose patients to the subject of their fear, which can be anything from fears related to transportation, crowds, arachnophobia, canines, and general social anxieties. The therapist has real-time control over the content displayed to gradually introduce aspects of their phobia at a comfortable pace for the patient, via a tablet.
“The 180˚ cylindrical screen increases the viewers’ peripheral immersion whilst the VIOSO Anyblend VR&SIM software enables a continuous single image presenting a large pixel real estate,” comments John Mould, Antycip’s commercial development manager. “It’s a pleasure building new partnerships with unique companies like XRT that have a positive vision of what they wish to achieve.”
Therapists have full control
Every treatment starts with a relaxation scene, like a beach or a meadow, and then when the patient is ready, they move on to the treatment scenario where they are slowly exposed to their feared stimulus.
If a patient, for example, requires help managing their fear of being onboard a crowded bus, the therapist will start the patient getting onto an unoccupied bus – over the course of the session, more passengers will board the bus as the patient is able to meet the increased challenge. The therapist is there to help them practice anxiety management strategies such as relaxation techniques and using coping self-statements.
“The therapist will have complete control of the display and can adjust it at any time,” says Penny Day, XRT’s project delivery manager. “This means the specific environment that the person finds challenging can be reproduced in a safe setting – users can navigate through scenes for example, in a supermarket or classroom with a tablet, without the need for a headset or goggles.”
“XR Therapeutics sought a technology partner capable of designing such a system but also with experienced engineering services that could deliver solutions wherever their business may grow,” comments Mould. “This specific type of application is a first for STE Antycip that we have encountered in the past 25+ years of operation, It is genuinely a pleasure to see the end result and to know that the technology is going to benefit the quality of people’s lives moving forward”.
Antycip’s immersive solution is comprised of many components, including the main curved screen that is mounted upon a custom mechanical structure that extends to support the three-channel solid-state projection array overhead. In addition, a display screen substrate offers geometry stability superior to that of a typical tensioned fabric, and the use of Optoma laser projectors enables the light source to deliver longevity of service without the need for consumable lamps whilst meeting the price-performance of this particular solution.
Trusted technology partners, Visual Displays Ltd, played an integral part in realizing the custom fabrications necessary for the design. Antycip and Visual Display’s Ltd worked in unison to ensure the bespoke design exactly matched the brief of the end-user.
The visual content, created in the Unity platform by XR Therapeutics, is integrated with VIOSO Anyblend VR&SIM software, enabling automatic calibrations to be directly applied to the content itself, correcting it for the display before signals leave the GPU (graphics processing unit).
Increased staff capacity
The device allows the treatment of CBT to be shortened from weekly sessions over 10-14 weeks to just four sessions in the immersive studio over the course of one to two weeks, resulting in an increased capacity for mental health staff, shorter waiting times for anxiety or phobia treatment, and overall savings in costs that would typically be spent on a clinician’s time.
“Each session will be delivered by a specially trained therapist and the patient will have the same therapist throughout their treatment,” continues Day. “All of our therapists are BABCP/HCPC registered and have received full training in our VR intervention…We’re very satisfied with the solution delivered by Antycip, they provided a very professional service and a system that has matched our requirements. We look forward to enhancing it further with more advanced projectors in time.”
The ground-breaking innovation has the potential to be rolled out to individuals with anxiety, mental health practitioners, public healthcare organizations such as NHS Trusts, and private healthcare providers both in the UK and internationally.
About STE Antycip
“STE Antycip lives and breathes all varieties of immersive display systems,” states Mould. “It is wonderful to know that we have helped to deliver a visual display medium that can help patients to overcome and reduce their anxieties but in a secure and safe environment. We hope that XRT is able to take this type of solution and bring a positive change to the many people who require such therapies.”
Since 1996, ST Engineering Antycip(formerly Antycip Simulation) has supported customers across the globe, in defense, academia, commerce, and industry, to become better at what they do. As an expert provider of simulation, analysis, modeling, display, and virtual reality solutions, ST Engineering Antycip combines its in-house technical expertise with an unrivaled range of products from software and hardware providers. ST Engineering Antycip is a subsidiary of ST Engineering. For more information, visit https://steantycip.com.
Sean Earley is the Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.