My wife sent me a cool link yesterday to a VR pain control project at the Human Interface Technology Lab at Washington University. HIT is testing SnowWorld at the Harborview Burn Center as a way to manage pain during some tough procedures.
That’s a great use of VR and another sign that virtual worlds, be they VR-based (goggles and feedback sensors) or just rendered on monitors such as Second Life are here to stay.
The reason why VR works as a pain management tool is that it requires a lot of attention, i.e., it takes brain processing cycles away from processing the pain stimuli. That’s cool. It’s also the reason why, once sucked in, people operating in virtual worlds or highly immersive games often find themselves consumed by the experience.