Japanese VR experiment helps users conquer fears by rescuing a cat

Now here's an interesting use for virtual reality beyond all the games and computer interface uses we've been hearing about leading up to the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. Japanese gaming company Bandai Namco has revealed a new VR installation to debut in Tokyo on April 15th called "Project I Can," aiming to help people face their fears by placing them in appropriate VR situations.

For example, one of the six different experiences, shown in the video below, tasks users with facing their fear of heights by walking along a wooden plank on the edge of skyscraper in order to rescue a cat. While the whole situation is virtual, Project I Can messes with people's other senses having them walk on a real board — one that's inside a room and only inches from the ground — and even picking up a model cat should they make it to the goal.

The company hasn't said what the other VR experiences might be, but they're using an HTC Vive with Project I Can, and it's clear by the people's reactions in the video that they're freaked out by how real the simulation is.

Assuming you live in, or can get to Tokyo, you can sign up to try the experience on the official Project I Can website. While it kicks off in April, Bandai Namco says it will be held until mid-October, with the experience also being used to gather research on the effects of VR.

Regardless if the whole project is for research or just for fun, it looks like a really interesting way to use VR to challenge people and put them in new situations. It would be great if Bandai Namco decides to release the demos to the public at some point, but as of right now that's just hopeful thinking.

SOURCE Project I Can