First virtual headsets sent to space to help astronauts with mental health

  • XRHealth sent VIVE Focus 3 VR headsets to the ISS on SpaceX CRS-29, enabling astronaut Andreas Mogensen to take care of his mental health.
  • The program will help astronauts deal with the isolation of space by providing immersive natural environments for relaxation.
  • The environments include mountaintop sunsets, oceans, wetland parks, and hiking trails through 360-degree panoramic videos.

XRHealth pioneers VR headset use in space

XRHealth, a “virtual clinic” that offers virtual reality-based mental health treatments, has become the first organisation to send VR headsets to space to help astronauts with feelings of isolation. The SpaceX CRS-29 mission delivered supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), including the specialized VIVE Focus 3 headset. Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen will become the first astronaut to use the VR headset for preventive mental health care during his six- to eight-month NASA Crew-7 mission.

HTC VIVE, XRHealth, and Nord-Space Aps have devised a virtual Assisted Mental Balance program for the VIVE Focus 3. This VR-based therapy aims to provide astronauts with a respite from their isolated surroundings, offering immersive experiences in diverse environments such as mountaintop sunsets, oceans, wetland parks, and hiking trails through 360-degree panoramic videos. It is designed to support mental relaxation during extended missions in the confined spaces of the ISS.

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VR therapy to enhance astronauts’ mental health during long space missions

“This is the first time a VR headset for mental health therapy is going to space with the goal of working with astronauts that have long and isolating jobs, for months at a time,” Eran Orr, CEO of XRHealth, told Mobi Health News. “VR therapy will be a crucial component to mental health, wherever a person is located simply because it is engaging and accessible absolutely anywhere – now including space.”

Per Lundahl Thomsen, Chief Technology Officer at Nord-Space Aps, highlighted the intense isolation astronauts experience during missions, which can last for months or years, confining them to small spaces with minimal contact with friends and family. He emphasised the importance of mental health needs during such isolation, which is crucial for maintaining their well-being after returning to Earth. The partnership focuses on incorporating the latest technologies adaptable to space, ensuring an optimal experience for astronauts.

XRHealth to partner with Apple Watch and Apple Vision Pro

In June, XRHealth was granted a U.S. patent for its adaptive learning system technology, which tailors training and treatment plans based on patients’ biometric and movement data. Initially, the company plans to integrate this technology with the Apple Watch and Apple’s newly launched augmented reality headset, the Apple Vision Pro.

Last month, XRHealth extended its impact by distributing hundreds of virtual reality headsets to 30 hospitals, assisted living facilities, mental health centres, and nursing homes across Israel. This initiative is part of an effort to alleviate conditions such as stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety among patients, demonstrating the potential of VR as a therapeutic tool beyond the boundaries of Earth.

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