Saturday, October 16, 2021

    Augmented Reality App Developed To Help People’s Fear Of Spiders

    University of Basel, MCN/Timothy Dykes/Unsplash

    With spider season in full swing, a new augmented reality app has been developed by researchers to help people overcome their fear of the arachnids.

    With the help of researches from the University of Basel, the new app, Phobys, enables people with arachnophobia to virtually encounter their fear from behind the screen.

    The app has been clinically trialled to help users conquer their phobia via their smartphones.

    The irrational fear of spiders – or arachnophobia – is one of the most common phobias, according to EurekAlert!.

    Augmented Reality App Developed To Help People's Fear Of Spiders (Alamy)Alamy

    The phobia can really limit those who suffer from it, from avoiding certain situations out of fear a spider may be there, for example, a zoo or travel destination, to obsessively checking surroundings or avoiding entire rooms altogether.

    One effective treatment, known as ‘exposure therapy’, works by systemically desensitising the patient to the phobic stimulus.

    Through this, the patient is guided through gradual exposure to spiders, however, because many patients are reluctant to even be in the same room as one, it is rarely used in practice.

    Professor Dominique de Quervain, leader of the research team who developed the new smartphone app, wanted to remedy this problem, finding that ‘the researchers have reported promising results with this app designed to tackle the fear of spiders,’ according to the Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

    Augmented Reality App Developed To Help People's Fear Of Spiders (University of Basel, MCN)University of Basel, MCN

    Phobys uses a virtual spider model, allowing users of the app to project the arachnid into the real world, whether that’s on their hand, table or floor.

    The lead author of the recent study, Anja Zimmer explained, ‘It’s easier for people with a fear of spiders to face a virtual spider than a real one.’

    The app, clinically trialled over the course of two weeks on 66 subjects who all said they had a fear of spiders, has since proved to be effective.

    The University of Basel’s study has shown that subjects experienced lower levels of fear of real spiders ‘after completing just a few training units with the app at home.’

    Phobys is now available in app stores.


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