Sweden are turning to VR and 360 video to help children overcome their fear of swimming, as one fifth of youths in Sweden cannot swim.
According to a new initiative launched by the Swedish Swimming Federation, 360 video is being used to help children become familiar with water by encouraging them to enter the water in virtual reality.
The initative is launched in conjunction with energy giant E.ON using a Google cardboard powered 360 video experience. The video aims to utilise the children’s visual and aural senses to the feel what it’s like of being underwater. The technique is similar to that of what is used in phobia treatment and aims to offer a VR exposure form of therapy.
The 360 film, which features members of the Swedish national swim team, takes the child under the water, encouraging simulated breathing techniques to give the child confidence of what to do.
Physchologist Philip Lindner tells viewers, “Shorter exposure can help people experience fun things they’ve previously missed out on, and create motivation to change.”
It’s a great way to introduce children who are not familiar with water to help build confidence. It will be interesting to hear the feedback on if the VR experience ultimately translates to confidence in the real world, but using 360 video as a first step is an excellent initiative.