Virtual Reality as a tool to face racism


The role of virtual reality in clinical interventions is well recognized and its use is increasingly becoming more extended. However, beyond its application in psychological treatments, virtual reality is also used as a tool in the context of education and ability training, as shown in recent studies that propose innovative designs and interventions that have the potential to offer excellent results.

On one hand, it has been proven that through virtual reality the implicit racial bias is  diminished (in people whose immersion in virtual reality was through a dark skinned avatar, while the patient is caucasian), which has created many expectations on how to start using this tool to face racism prejudices. This can be achieved thanks to the personification or embodiment produced through the avatar, which creates the illusion that the body is their own (ownership).

The results of this and similar studies open a whole new door on how to face racism, especially in the field of education using virtual reality as a tool.

Virtual reality also offers a new insight on the training of abilities such as empathy, as shown by researchers of Virtual Human Interaction Lab (Stanford University). Their project Empathy at scale, seeks to design, test and distribute virtual reality interventions that teach empathy, through the idea of “putting in other’s shoes (literally)”. This technique in particular allows the learners to see their appearance reflected in a virtual mirror as someone who is different from them, which allows them to experience a different scenery from any part in a social interaction.   (más…)

Psious closes its first investment round with 1.05 million dollars

In May of this year, pioneering Barcelona-based Startup Psious, specialized in psychological treatments based on Virtual Reality, closed its first seed financing round at a value of 1.05 million dollars, expandable to 1.5. This operation will allow the Company to accelerate its product’s development and position itself as Word leader in the Virtual Reality-based medical treatment sector.

Xavier Palomer socio co fundador
Xavier Palomer socio co fundador

The Company announced this news in a press release, which highlights the contribution of Venture Capital from Silicon Valley Rothenberg Ventures, the company leading the funding round alongside other investors from Singapore and Spain.

“We are delighted to have finished the round in such a favorable position and to welcome new partners to our Company who are so in line with our philosophy and offer such outstanding experience,” explains Xavier Palomer, the company’s CEO.

Following on from its success with the RIVER accelerator in San Francisco and the huge degree of anticipation generated in the Health 2.0 sector, today the company is planning to reinforce its leadership in the area of smartphone-based TICs targeted at mental health. Psious is a mobile phone-based Virtual Reality system allowing for the treatment and diagnosis of anxiety disorders through gradual exposure – the most frequently used therapy in treating these conditions by cognitive behavioral therapists (CBT).

Founded three years ago, the company has won a great many awards and nominations thanks to its innovative profile and potential to revolutionize mental health. The company was a finalist at the HITLAB SUMMIT WORLD CUP 2014 and took home first prize at – Health 2.0 NYC. However, according to its co-founder, Daniel Roig:

“What really motivates us to carry on is the possibility of helping more than 18% of the population who suffer from anxiety disorders which have a negative impact on their daily lives.”

Dani Roig socio cofundador
Dani Roig socio cofundador

This philosophy is reflected in the business plan of the team made up of 9 young multi-disciplinary professionals, who have made Virtual Reality treatments available to all from their offices in Barcelona and Silicon Valley, whereas, up until now, this technology was only available at research centers or major specialist institutions. Psious is already being used by more than 90 mental healthcare professionals in the private sector and clinical trials are soon set to begin at centers as prestigious as Stanford University and John Hopkins Hospital.

“The surprising thing is that the use of technology backed up by 20 years’ medical validation and superior efficacy to traditional treatments is not more widespread among health professionals,” points out Walter Greenleaf, Neuroscientist and medical doctor at Stanford University and Psious’ medical consultant.

Psious Virtual Reality environments for specific phobias.



Psious offers psychological treatments for various types of phobias. Each treatment consists in different virtual environments to treat each type of phobia.

Through each of the virtual environments the therapist is able to expose the patient to the feared situations and objects. These events will activate the emotional and cognitive state of being of the patient, making it easier for the therapist to work with the exposure technique.

The psychologist will be able to regulate the stimulus that the patient is being exposed to, therefore having a direct effect on the intensity of the sessions. In addition, the therapist must work the cognition and relaxation techniques with the patient so he learns to handle the phobias more effectively.


Fear of Flying

Fear of Flying. 2 nov. 2015


I’ve been working as a clinical psychologist and cognitive-conductual therapist for 20 years, where I make sure I update my knowledge continuously.

My interest on scientific advances on applied psychology, took me to the existence of Virtual Reality (VR), but it wasn’t until 2012 that I was able to use this tool to aid in the treatment of patients with phobias.

This technique allows the patients to immerse in a progressive and controlled way in the surroundings that they fear. It also helps the patient to feel at ease because he doesn’t need to move from one place to the other, and the therapist has the possibility of regulating the exposure conditions. Similarly, the therapist can increase or decrease the intensity of situations as well as the discomfort that they are causing. By doing this we favor the stimulus generalization and therefore can diminish the length of the treatment. (más…)

Fear of flying treatment after the Germanwings plane crash

masksFear of flying is quite common and affects the population in several ways, while some people experience slight discomfort, other people are terrified when they have to get on an airplane, which interferes with their work and social lives. In fact, some statistics suggest that up to 10% of people suffer an intense fear of flying and avoid it, and nearly 15% fly with considerable discomfort. Epidemiologically, it is considered that these kinds of phobic people represent between 2.6 and 3.5% of the adult population.

 Among the most common concerns are the feeling of being locked in a very small place, the instability of the aircraft itself, the altitude of flight, the idea of losing control (experiencing a panic attack during the flight) or the possibility of having an accident (and therefore eventually die). These people tend to overstate the actual risk of traveling by plane. However, according to the statistics, flying is the safest form of transportation, with fewer accidents and fewer fatalities than most other forms of transportation.

News media periodically shock us with stories regarding plane accidents, creating a great sense of vulnerability, which can increase the degree of phobic fear in people. An example of this would be the terrible incident that occurred last week in the Alps. This has been responsible for decreasing the confidence in professionals who are responsible for passenger safety.

Therefore, to treat people with fear of flying is important to offer them objective information through psycho-educational sessions. Furthermore, the use of Virtual Reality exposure is a highly effective option in this type of disorder to systematically desensitize these patients.

But, what happens when, humans are directly and voluntarily responsible for the the plane crash? It is certainly significant to consider when treating someone with the fear of flying.

As mental health professionals,

Have you considered changing your address or therapeutic process due to the recent accident Airbus A320?

Do you think such incidents increase the number of cases of flying phobia?

Encourage them to share your experience on our Linkedin group.

Testing the Psious device while simultaneously recording electroencephalogram

We are glad to share the first impressions of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Research group of University of Illinois at Chicago. Who have started evaluating our tool for a future research possibilities. This is what Ryan Patwell, the study coordinator, said:

Were we testing the Psious device while simultaneously recording electroencephalogram with a Biosemi Active II system.

We were looking primarily for interference from the Psious cell phone device that could potentially cause artifacts in our EEG due to the close proximity of WIFI activity and artifacts caused by the head motion required to get the full VR experience.  Secondly, we were testing if the Homido could be positioned comfortably with a 32 channel EEG setup.  Our tests revealed that the ActiveII electrodes appeared to be sufficiently shielded from any artifacts caused by wireless radio signals emanating from the Psious phone. Head movement was only an issue if the volunteer moved rapidly to face either side, but this can be remedied by telling the Patients to take it easy with the looking around, and also by securing the EEG electrodes better.

We are satisfied with the results and will begin taking steps to design a study that will utilize both  Psious and EEG simultaneously. This will allow us to collect brain activity with very precise timing as the patient reacts to the Psious virtual environment.



RIVER and the future of Virtual Reality

walterWe are excited to announce that we’ve been selected to participate into the River Accelerator Program, the First Business Accelerator for Virtual Reality startups in the world. The program is promoted by Rothenberg Ventures, who have graciously given us their trust and financial support, along with thirteen other companies from around the world. The program’s vision is to promote virtual reality as the next technological revolution in as a multitude of different areas, such as health, education, and entertainment.

Thanks to Rothenberg Ventures, we have the opportunity to share knowledge and build relations with today’s most innovative companies in virtual reality, thereby giving us a chance to connect with the most influencing people in the industry. We plan on taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity by learning as much we can about how we can further improve our products. Ultimately, we hope that Psious will revolutionize the way that people approach mental health treatment.