mHealth in Mental Healthcare: the Application of Mobile Head-mounted Displays

Collin Turbyne, Pelle de Koning, Damiaan Denys
2017 Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science  
Research in head-mounted display (HMD) technology is presently receiving a great deal of attention in both commercial and academic settings. However, by no means is it a new technology (see Sutherland 1968) . Only recently have researchers established terminology for this type of technology, which reflects the form of content being generated. There are three different types of media that are used to create a virtual environment (VE). Virtual reality (VR) is a stereoscopic, computer-generated VE
more » ... that an individual can explore from any perspective. This medium is an absolute augmentation since the construction of the environment is entirely virtual, which by extension means the user's vision is completely separated from their natural environment. Augmented reality (AR) enables an individual to experience stereoscopic, computer-generated images that are overlaid into their natural environment. This medium is a more partial augmentation based on the ability to either add features to the user's natural environment or separate the user from certain features of their natural environment. Mixed reality is a combination of both VR and AR. The presentation of this content fluctuates between both forms so as to weave an experience that consists of both elements. Clinicians are increasingly utilizing desktop-based HMD technologies as a means for advancing assessment techniques in mental health. Virtual environments enable clinicians to recreate realistic situations or environments that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to present within traditional clinical settings. Moreover, the nature of VEs is that they are controlled and uniform structures, which allows for consistent experiences over time. Therefore, VEs allow clinicians to more objectively and reliably evaluate their patients' symptoms and the progression of those symptoms across multiple treatment sessions. Altogether, the clinical relevance of this technology is to help reduce subjective evaluations of psychiatric symptoms that diminish diagnostic objectivity. Despite the advantages provided by this technology, clinicians are still hesitant to adopt it mainly due to the financial implications of necessarily purchasing specialized, costly equipment as well as the high expenses involved with developing and maintaining an application. The necessity for being able to accurately interpret symptoms is apparent; however, the potential solutions for doing so remain unclear. This issue is deeply complicated by contextual factors, such as how these symptoms are expressed during outpatient treatment as opposed to at home situations. Clinicians often remedy this situation by performing house visits, as this permits them to see the natural manifestations of their patients' symptoms. Despite its efficacy, these symptom assessments are infrequently performed due to logistical (e.g., travel distance) and financial (e.g., time consuming) restrictions. On this basis, we argue that researchers should shift their attention from desktop-based HMDs to smartphonebased HMDs to power media with clinical content for virtual exposure therapies in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Smartphone-based HMDs are functionally similar to desktop-based HMDs; however, they are self-contained units. This means that they have all of the necessary hardware components built into them which enables their portability. These devices can be differentiated from mobile HMDs in that while mobile HMDs are also self-contained units, there is dedicated hardware powering these devices rather than a smartphone. Even though some researchers have recently begun to adopt smartphone-based HMD solutions, research outside of case * Collin Turbyne
doi:10.1007/s41347-017-0020-8 fatcat:7zhfxx2nvjcwxjhbyx4wiq3uo4