VR Mindfulness for Anxiety

Study on using VR for mindfulness to reduce the effects of anxiety. Theoretical development of a mindfulness VR application. 3 Month Duration & Ongoing. 3 Month Duration & Ongoing

User Research

VR

UX

Elevating the practice
of Mindfulness

Problem Statement

How may we reduce the effects of anxiety and decrease reactiveness to anxiety attack with VR?

Mood & Anxiety are the most common types of anxiety disorders

Project statement

I am designing a VR application that will allow 13 - 35 year old individuals with anxiety to practice mindfulness to reduce their reactiveness to anxiety. They will have an interactive immersive VR enviornment depicting a cozy cabin to practice.

Persona, Pain Points & Needs

Anxiety, Nausea & Peace

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Angel Santos

Pain Points

• Chronic Worrying or Overthinking
• Motivation to keep good habits
• Trapped Indoors often
• Overwhelmed easily
• Motion Sickness
• Lives in a small space

The User

Target Audience is 13 to 35 year old individuals with bad anxiety, anxiety attacks, or GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorders). The characteristics they hold normally have: chronic worrying, overthinking, a struggle to keep good habits, often indoors, overwhelmed easily, holds motion sickness and has a small space. They are a planner, patience, more introverted and often seated type of users.

They enjoy warm, cozy spaces with a view filled with green or plenty of blue. They enjoy neat spaces, and the sounds of water, fire and instrumental music.

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Prevention is the least
used and best method

Primary Research

Phase 1 of my primary research had the goal of using the information received to develop a persona, a Userflow and have a better understanding of methods and tools to help Anxiety. I developed a questionnaire with 11 responses on how they are currently helping their anxiety situation in regards to recovery & prevention.

The image below is organized by most popular. However, I've discovered many don't have prevention methods. Type of the method used for recovery/prevention and the level of anxiety they experience in daily life out of 5. Breathing & meditation being most popular

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Anxiety User Journey

User Journey Map was based on recorded anxiety attacks online.It indicated many individuals aren't at a position to be grabbing a VR head set or do much while experiencing it. Thus, it validates that prevention is the primary focus.

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Phase 2: Environment Survey with specific options to narrow down the environment to produce for the prototype including: indoor, outdoor, sounds & color scheme. This also included a prototype to determine a mood board to create the ideal space based on the previous and new research obtained. The prototype was tested with 5 individuals, while the survey up to 12 individuals.

Mindfulness, healing with color & habits

Secondary Research

Secondary suggest that mindfulness & meditation is a method to have longer term effects of reducing anxiety and anxiety disorders such as GAD (generalized anxiety disorders) especially if it forms different thinking habits. It can reduce stress reactivity.

VR demographic is the ages of 18 - 35, with a high growth in Canada. It's a 15 billion dollar industry and expected to rise up to 62.5 by 2027.

Mindfulness

• Pay attention
• Live in moment
• Accept yourself
• Focus on breathing
• Body scan meditation
• Sitting meditation

Habit Building

1. Build Goal
2. Daily Basis Action to Take
3. Plan when, where, time every week.
4. Every time you encounter time, place, do action
5. Acknowledge it will take 10 weeks to from habit
6. Daily sheet can used to help form habit

Color

Warm Colors = Energizing
Green & Blue = Calming
Brightness & low saturation = Softness
Short wavelengths = calming
Pink = Tranquilizing

Current Market & Demographic

Current Market & Demographic VR demographic is the ages of 18 - 35, with a high growth in Canada. It's a 15 billion dollar industry and expected to rise up to 62.5 by 2027. The market size for 2020 was 15.8 Billion and is forecast to reach 62.5 Billion by 2027.

VR & Anxiety has not been explored thoroughly as of yet. However, there are apps/games currently on Oculus Go and Steam that give a space to meditate. There is little competition currently, and the applications are primarily focused on giving different environments rather than any guide.

Outcome

Product Features

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Mindfulness Exercise

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Interior Space

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Seasons

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Weather

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Spirit Animal

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Audio Control

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Moodboard

The mood board was developed after creating a prototype to determine which images were most resembled calming to the individual. The ideal relaxing space by vote is a cozy cabin environment by the mountain, forest or beach. Indoors was a popular choice, with the most popular style is minimalistic at the same time. Beach, rain, fireplace are the most calming. The color scheme that was deemed most relaxing and calming was often taken by the beach. Warm, lively environments are ideal.

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Interior

Optimized to have four different spots to practice mindfulness (not including outdoors) It includes a radio, cards to access anxiety reducer mode, clock to change the time, and the windows would be able to change the outdoor environment.

Prototype




Done in Unity, using URP (Universal Rendering Pipeline), model developed in Blender, mixed in with downloaded assets (trees, land, water) Only tested on Oculus Rift S & Quest 2



Why VR?



VR is the known to be highly immersive. There are already many apps attempting to solve the problem of Anxiety, but one thing can't change - the person's environment. In some cases, being in a different environment can change perspective. It's a safe space to practice mindfulness, and immersive one as that. Mindfulness is continuing to grow as a trend, as is VR. Especially since many of us are locked up indoors and aren't able to travel.



Coming from Canada where skies are often grey and the most I can see is flat land in Ontario unless I drive VR. A lot of people associate their room as somewhere safe, and thus, indoor space they have control of is important to include.