Could Virtual Reality Help You Quit Smoking?

Image Credit: MindCotine
Image Credit: MindCotine

One thing that fascinates us at the Virtual Reality Society is the use of VR technology to provide new and better solutions to common problems. In some fields these improvements are proven; VR has been used to help teach surgeons for over 20 years. VR has been used as part of various mental health and aversion therapies as well, taking full advantage of the uniquely immersive qualities of the medium. And now, a team of developers have come together to use VR to solve the problem once and for all.

Could virtual reality tackle the biggest health-related issue of all?

Mindcotine, a team of developers and digital media minds from Argentina and based in Mexico City believe it can, and have created a package of VR experiences which combine immersion, mindfulness, biofeedback and proven psychological techniques which they believe will revolutionise stopping smoking.

The Mindcotine kit launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, appropriately enough on the World Health Organisation’s No Tobacco Day. The kit, available at various pledge levels from $10 up, consists of a cardboard pack containing a cardboard VR headset as well as two wristbands and a link to both the community support and the app itself.

The app itself is the biggest part of the kit however, a 14 point plan and a series of experiences, exercises and mindfulness meditations customised to the needs of each user. The app starts with a series of questions, focusing on the level of addiction, and then the user touches the sensor on the back of their Google Cardboard compatible phone to detect biofeedback using your heart rate and voice tone. This is all used to determine a unique plan for each smoker, which exercises and experiences are most beneficial to each user to give them the best chance of stopping smoking and staying stopped.

Image Credit: MindCotine
Image Credit: MindCotine

Addiction is a very powerful thing to overcome

Mindcotine have had plenty of success showcasing their app as SXSW, however the real test will be convincing people to back. At time of writing, with eight days to go they are getting closer to their $18,000 goal.

It will be interesting to see if going forward whether Virtual Reality, with its strong sense of immersion, immediate feedback and the level of personalisation to each user’s needs will help enable a legion of smokers who thought quitting their addiction was impossible.

In any case it’s another amazing example of technology minds coming together and using the most advanced and immersive kit possible to solve a problem that has been around for a century or more.


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