Virtual reality fights loneliness, both on Earth and in space
It will take seven months to get to Mars in an efficient engineering spacecraft, covering a distance of 480 million kilometers. On this trip, a team had to live in a confined space with no opportunity to experience nature or interact with new people. It is easy to imagine how this loneliness could have a profound effect on the well - being and productivity of the crew.
The challenges posed by long-distance alien space travelers to humans are not constant, albeit to a lesser extent. Many Canadians experience loneliness and isolation, at least at times.
The disease of loneliness could be alleviated by a mismatch between space exploration, virtual reality (VR) and the science of self-transgender experiences.
COVID-19 locks have created an environment for the largest isolation study in research history. Home stay orders have stopped us from meeting other people and experiencing nature, which has increased the levels of loneliness and depression.
Feeling lonely and isolated is associated with a wide range of negative consequences for our well-being, physical and mental health. A sense of connection is very important for a happy, healthy and meaningful life.
Given the dangers of loneliness, space agencies conduct large-scale simulation studies to study and mitigate these effects. SIRIUS (International Scientific Research in Unparalleled Terrestrial Station) is a series of terrestrial experiments similar to long-range space light.
It is safer and cheaper to make symbols on land to assess the effects of loneliness on the crew. This will also allow space agencies to test the effectiveness of solutions that could support the physical and mental health of the crew during a long-term space mission, such as a trip to Mars.
SIRIUS-21 is an eight-month isolation study in Moscow that will begin on November 4, 2022. A multinational team of six people will enter a special facility, called NEK, modeling a built-in spaceship in the 1960s and living in them. for 240 days, participating in 70 experiments prepared by international research teams.
To explore opportunities to support future astronauts on their extraplanetary missions, Simon Fraser University's iSpace Lab collaborated with a research group at Universitätsmedizin Charité in Berlin to create VR experiences designed to evoke emotions build connections.
Experiences beyond self
Self-transgender experiences are a group of connected wonders and emotional states characterized by a greater sense of interconnectedness with the world. Surprise is a special kind of self-transgender feeling that can be experienced when you see something larger than yourself as standing on top of a mountain, captured by the vastness of a landscape. outside horizon or seeing a bright starry night. Awe not only supports our well-being, but also makes us more compassionate and pre-social, and even improves our physical health.
While we find wonder in many experiences in nature, spiritual practices and culture, it sometimes requires traveling to an interesting site, such as the Grand Canyon. Living alone inevitably limits our chances of getting surprised.
My doctoral research explores the potential of immersive technologies such as VR to acquire feelings of attachment and support well-being. Together with my colleagues at iSpaceLab, we delivered a 30-minute “Earthgazing VR Experience” where participants are immersed in nature.
During the journey they experience: clouds staring, watching the sunset over a canyon in the company of wild animals, gazing aurora in the night sky, seeing Mars at rising over the horizon and flying through space coming across a solar eclipse. Finally, participants move around the Earth, reflecting on the interconnectedness of all life on our planet. This immersive journey is inspired by the Overview Effect, an in-depth experience that astronomers experience when they see the beauty and fragility of the Earth from outer space.
We will have the opportunity to explore a response to our Earthgazing VR experience in Moscow. The SIRIUS-21 team experience this VR experience throughout their mission and document its impact on their physical and psychological health, stress levels, emotional state and sense of connection.
Next summer, our research team will gather more information as the team emerges and learn more about our designed VR experience and the potential for space lighting.
The power of VR
Our VR experience could be beneficial for mitigating the effects of loneliness. VR, while often presented as a standalone technology, has been studied as a tool for gaining connections. There is a growing interest and creative experimentation in how immersion technology can bring in advanced experiences that can connect us, rather than lock us in our individualities.
In our lab, we saw that VR experiences of flying around the Earth can be an experience of wonder (seen in visible goosebumps on participants' arms), as well as thematic descriptions of wonder, connection, and change of perspective.
Researchers at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan also said that stunning views of mountains and waterfalls that are in VR elicit a statistically significant increase in positive emotions. VR could also foster socially self-transcendental emotions, such as a meaningful meditative experience that invites two users to blend their breath and brain movements together fostering compassion.
Another recent study examined the ability of a psychedelics-inspired VR tour to acquire self-transcendent traits of experience, including a greater degree of connection.
This growing research group demonstrates the promise of VR to help reduce the ill effects of loneliness. Of course, there are ways to experience a connection in addition to putting on a VR headset, such as getting into nature or spending quality time with friends. But without those opportunities, VR could provide a spark of self - transcendental emotions.
Article by Katerina Stepanova, PhD Candidate and Lecturer in Interactive Art and Technology, Simon Fraser University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.