A new peripheral for virtual reality that allows integration of the user's breath into VR experiences. Breathing data integrated with virtual reality can increase immersion, train healthy breathing patterns for dealing with anxiety and pain, help with smoking cessation and be used for VR user analytics.Read More
Since starting to explore VR as a therapeutic tool, I've been psyched by the potential the technology offers for helping people to disconnect and relax.
Here is one of the first guided meditation experiences we've created. We've combined a guided audio meditation similar to Headspace, with a beautiful environment, soothing music, and guided breathing visual.
As you breathe in the experience, your breath interacts with the snowflakes. The breathing is timed at a rate that leads to long slow rhythmic cycles which is correlated with deep relaxation.
If you have an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, please give this a try (download below) and let us know what you think!
Google Drive download link:
P.S. Thank you to Chloe Good for your meditation guidance. Music attribution from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPcBcrwACq0&t=144s
Visualizing Indra's Net
Indra's Net is a beautiful metaphor for the non-dualistic nature of reality, and drives home in a visually powerful way how interconnected we all are at the deepest of levels. One of the most exciting discoveries I found when creating an Indra's Net meditation for VR was how much more powerfully I was able to vividly visualize the net and feel the meaning it represents during my "normal" meditation once I had spent some time with the VR version.
* Song written by Ila Cantor, performed by Ila Cantor, Lauren Arrow, and Robert James Ryan III
Exploring VR Somatic Therapy
Movement linked with intent combined with the visualization power that VR gives us is proving to be an extremely compelling path.. In this experience, you find yourself underwater, exploring the depths of your subconscious as negative emotions like fear, doubt, and worry bubble up. But by simply reaching out you can release these emotions and send them flying through the ocean. Similarly to my experience with Indra's Net, I noticed that during an evening (non-VR) Qi Gong session after creating this module, I was able to see and feel myself dissolving these emotions as I moved through the poses in a more visceral way than any I'd ever experienced previously. Rather than dampening the imagination and powers of visualization, meditative VR experiences seem to be enhancing these abilities significantly.
Metta Loving Kindness, Mantras, and a Universal Perspective
I've been imagining a mantra detection system for VR for a while now but haven't gotten around to prototyping it. Finally I took some time to explore this and it's feeling really interesting. So much of personal transformation and changing limiting beliefs has to do with the intent we put on the things we say and how often we say them. The quote by Gandhi below sums it up well. By choosing your words and repeating them you can shape your actions, habits and values.
We've been making steady progress and learning a lot about what meditation/relaxation/mindfulness is in VR. Here are some of the key updates.
Breathing, flying, and the best meditation experience yet
Seeing your breath and interacting with the environment through speaking/sound/breath is pretty compelling if we can find a way to do it reliably. We've found one way of combining breath and particle effects that creates a really magical feeling. This has been the first experience that I felt was engaging at the right level to stay in for 10 - 40 minutes.
Respiration / heart rate variability virtual reality biofeedback
We had the great fortune of working with Alan Macy (BioPac) and Mikey Siegel (Consciousness Hacking) a couple of weekends ago. This event gave us access to some high quality sensors and we pulled in some breathing / respiration data and tied it to your ability to fly around the environment. In the prototype, your breathing fullness controlled your ability and speed while flying around the environment. Surprisingly within 5 minutes I was very in tune with abdominal breathing. The world of biofeedback is definitely going to be revolutionized by VR.
At present, we're working on interactive soundscapes that can get someone connected with their body. This is moving in the direction of something like conscious dancing or ecstatic dance and seems like it may be a better use of the medium. Here's a video of some early explorations related to moving and music.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Yesterday In Unreal Engine I brought some beautiful birds over from one of UE's starter projects, LandscapeMountains. I felt the urge to play with very simple materials and effects, so I substituted the diffuse texture the birds came with for a simple white emissive effect against a solid background sky color. I also slowed down the beating of the birds' wings significantly from their default state. The effect, especially in VR, is calming and awe-inspiring.
I feel compelled by the simplicity of this virtual space and plan on continuing exploring this style.
Feel free to download the project and play with it/change it/etc. It's GearVR friendly, so give it a go in your VR system of choice!
When we think about the most compelling future we can imagine, we see a world where people are totally open to each other, sharing, happy, safe, and freely expressing themselves. When you walk down the street people smile and say hello. People take time for each other and aren’t constantly rushing to the next thing. People meditate regularly and have come to know themselves as not much different from others. Racism, sexism, poverty, and injustice are largely nonexistent. People are fully aware that they have all of the resources they need. Community organizations abound, funded by the willingness to give of a mindful, caring society and the abundance created from widespread technological automation.
Children learn to manage their mind through mindfulness training at an early age. Meditation centers are just as common as coffee shops and people widely accept the practice of sitting in quiet. Extensive training programs and technologies exist for accelerating people’s ability to learn mindfulness. Most people have experienced these programs through school, work, or their community. Mental health issues will largely be nonexistent. Because society is broadly more mindful, people eat healthier, are more creative, fight less, love more, and dance more.
When you are feeling stressed, depressed, mentally blocked, you can’t sleep, or have low energy, you will be able to tell a friendly, humanized artificially intelligent system exactly how you’re feeling. You will receive a customized set of experiences that train you to solve these problems and help you to achieve an ideal mental state. This system will know your heart rate, breathing rate, EEG, EMG, etc and provide custom tailored experiences and guidance help you overcome your emotional and psychological blocks.
This is the future we’re creating at Juno. Our mission is to help 7 billion people become mindful and live more joyfully. We’re building a virtual reality mind training system that will connect people with the experiences and guidance they need to become their truest, most authentic, powerful, loving self.
I've been making progress toward integrating HRV into VR using an optical sensor. Here's a quick update screen cast of the raw data coming in, peak finding and heart rate calculating.
Making good progress towards integrating breathing status into the VR meditation experiences.
Something about being outdoors really helps me to drop into a sense of awe and relaxation. I've tried to capture some of this feeling for sharing with others via a virtual reality experience by pairing an immersive photo sphere with nature sounds and soothing music.
I'll have this uploaded soon and it will be available in the demo section. In the meantime you can check out a preview here (note: this link may not work in the near future as I reconfigure my hosting)
Photos and music are not my own and will be credited in the app.
In this experience, I've combined 360 video of a forest with a guided meditation that I've pulled in from soundcloud. It's an interesting experience for me but feels disconnected and a little distracting. I would like to see the visuals in the experience match the guide in some way.
Experience available here.
I'm excited by the potential to engage people's empathetic responses. How can we create situations where people will naturally resonate with the emotional states of a virtual space.
In the image below and experience here, I'm exploring the possibilities of using happy people of various ages, sexes and races to trigger a happiness response.
This blog will be a record of the process of building virtual reality experiences and content for assisting people to achieve mindfulness. Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be posting updates, prototypes, research, and feedback. Please feel free to leave feedback or contact us.