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Virtual reality (VR) is useful for treating several psychological problems, including phobias such as fear of flying, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, and phobia to insects and small animals. We believe that augmented reality (AR) could also be used to treat some psychological disorders. AR and VR share some advantages over traditional treatments. However, AR gives a greater feeling of presence (the sensation of being there) and reality judgment (judging an experience as real) than VR because the environment and the elements the patient uses to interact with the application are real. Moreover, in AR users see their own hands, feet, and so on, whereas VR only simulates this experience. With these differences in mind, the question arises as to the kinds of psychological treatments AR and VR are most suited for. In our system, patients see their own hands, feet, and so on. They can touch the table that animals are crossing or seeing their feet while the animals are running on the floor. They can also hold a marker with a dead spider or cockroach or pick up a flyswatter, a can of insecticide, or a dustpan.
Date of Publication: Nov.-Dec. 2005