Scientists Use AR to Make Arachnophobes See Huge Spiders

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The new app uses augmented reality to create the illusion that an arachnophobic person is being surrounded by or covered by large, realistic-looking spiders.

According to university announcement, Phobys was developed by scientists at the University of Basel. The app is designed to help people face their fears and overcome them. CNET points out that this idea is not new. For years, scientists have been trying to use mixed reality to help people overcome phobias such as fear of heights and public speaking. However, this appears to be the first to visualize spiders.

According to research published by the Journal of Anxiety Disorders it appears to work. This shows that augmented reality tech doesn't have to be a gimmick and can actually make a difference in our lives. Phobys users were capable of comfortably stepping closer to real-life spiders after three hours of training. The glass box contained a glass container and the user expressed less disgust than those who did not use the app.

Exposure therapy is an effective way to overcome phobias. However, it's not as widely used as you might think. People are often reluctant to confront their fears even when they are in controlled settings. Fast Company says that this makes exposure therapy less popular. Basel researchers have replaced real spiders by virtual ones to lower the barrier of entry and make treatment more accessible.



Anja Zimmer, University of Basel neuroscientist and lead author of the study, stated in the announcement that it is easier for people who fear spiders to confront a virtual one than a real one.

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