Outrospectre VR system simulates an out of body experience

A device that simulates an out of body experience using virtual reality could be the  help people experience ‘death’ without dying, its creator claims.

Outrospectre is designed to provide therapy for terminally ill patients in hospitals, by allowing them to live out the feeling of dying.

By confronting their own mortality and becoming familiar with sensations associated with death, it is hoped that this will reduce the trauma of the real thing.

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A device that simulates an out of body experience using virtual reality could be the key to overcoming our fear of death, according to its creator. This image shows the experimental device set up at the Waag Society in the Netherlands

A device that simulates an out of body experience using virtual reality could be the key to overcoming our fear of death, according to its creator. This image shows the experimental device set up at the Waag Society in the Netherlands

A device that simulates an out of body experience using virtual reality could be the key to overcoming our fear of death, according to its creator. This image shows the experimental device set up at the Waag Society in the Netherlands

HOW IT WORKS 

Patients stand in front of a robotic head that is equipped with a 3D camera in each eye, which is mounted on a track that allows it move forwards and backwards.

Wearing a VR headset, the user is can watch themselves as the camera feed backs away from their body.

The robotic head can move, which lets wearers of the VR headset to look around and explore the room around them.

It is also equipped with microphones and the user wears headphones, which means the aural input they receive is also dissociated from their body.  

To add a more physical element to the experience, a hammer taps the users chest every second to mimic a heartbeat.

And a mirror at the end of the track shocks users out of their out of body illusion, by confronting them with the image of their robotic reflection.

The experimental device is the creation of Dutch designer Frank Kolkman, who graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 2015.

Rather than generating a virtual world with computer graphics, the gadget captures video footage of the real world.

Patients stand in front of a robotic head that is equipped with a 3D camera in each eye, which is mounted on a track that lets it move forwards and backwards.

Wearing a VR headset, the user is can watch themselves as the camera feed backs away from their body.

Four out of five people who have tested the equipment have reported experiencing sensations of physically moving or being present in a different location, according to reports in De Zeen.

A few have even recorded being in two places at once. 

Speaking to the magazine, Mr Kolkman said: ‘The fear and experience of death is a neglected topic.

‘If we began treating our anxieties surrounding death, it might mean the process of dying could become more comfortable.

Outrospectre is designed to provide therapy for terminally ill patients in hospitals, by allowing them to live out the feeling of dying, by watching their own body through a set of robotic eyes

Outrospectre is designed to provide therapy for terminally ill patients in hospitals, by allowing them to live out the feeling of dying, by watching their own body through a set of robotic eyes

Outrospectre is designed to provide therapy for terminally ill patients in hospitals, by allowing them to live out the feeling of dying, by watching their own body through a set of robotic eyes

By confronting their own mortality and becoming familiar with sensations associated with dying, it is hoped that this will reduce the trauma of the real thing. Here designer Frank Kolkman setting up his creation

By confronting their own mortality and becoming familiar with sensations associated with dying, it is hoped that this will reduce the trauma of the real thing. Here designer Frank Kolkman setting up his creation

By confronting their own mortality and becoming familiar with sensations associated with dying, it is hoped that this will reduce the trauma of the real thing. Here designer Frank Kolkman setting up his creation

Mr Kolkman says that the fear and experience of death is a neglected topic in a medical context. He hopes to address this taboo through his work

Mr Kolkman says that the fear and experience of death is a neglected topic in a medical context. He hopes to address this taboo through his work

Mr Kolkman says that the fear and experience of death is a neglected topic in a medical context. He hopes to address this taboo through his work

Patients stand in front of a robotic head that is equipped with a 3D camera in each eye, which is mounted on a track that allows it move forwards and backwards

Patients stand in front of a robotic head that is equipped with a 3D camera in each eye, which is mounted on a track that allows it move forwards and backwards

Patients stand in front of a robotic head that is equipped with a 3D camera in each eye, which is mounted on a track that allows it move forwards and backwards

‘In the developed world, the majority of people die in hospital or a care home, turning deaths into medical experiences. 

‘But doctors are trained to save and prolong lives, not tend to our demise. They simply lack the tools.’ 

The robotic head can move, which lets wearers of the VR headset to look around and explore the room around them.

It is also equipped with microphones and the user wears headphones, which means the aural input they receive is also dissociated from their body.   

Four out of five people who have tested the equipment have reported experiencing sensations of physically moving or being resent in a different location. A few have even recorded being in two places at once.

Four out of five people who have tested the equipment have reported experiencing sensations of physically moving or being resent in a different location. A few have even recorded being in two places at once.

Wearing a VR headset, the user is can watch themselves as the camera feed backs away from their body

Four out of five people who have tested the equipment have reported experiencing sensations of physically moving or being present in a different location. A few have even recorded being in two places at once

Four out of five people who have tested the equipment have reported experiencing sensations of physically moving or being present in a different location. A few have even recorded being in two places at once

Four out of five people who have tested the equipment have reported experiencing sensations of physically moving or being present in a different location. A few have even recorded being in two places at once

The robotic head can move, which lets wearers of the VR headset to look around and explore the room around them

The robotic head can move, which lets wearers of the VR headset to look around and explore the room around them

The robotic head can move, which lets wearers of the VR headset to look around and explore the room around them

It is also equipped with microphones and the user wears headphones, which means the aural input they receive is also dissociated from their body

It is also equipped with microphones and the user wears headphones, which means the aural input they receive is also dissociated from their body

It is also equipped with microphones and the user wears headphones, which means the aural input they receive is also dissociated from their body

To add a more physical element to the experience, a hammer taps the users chest every second to mimic a heartbeat.

And a mirror at the end of the track shocks users out of their out of body illusion, by confronting them with the image of their robotic reflection.

In a written statement, creator Mr Kolkman added: ‘Outrospectre is an experimental proposal for a medical device aimed at reconciling people with death through simulating out-of-body experiences. 

COULD OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCES BE CAUSED BY EAR DAMAGE?

New research appears to confirm the theory that out-of-body experiences are caused by damage to a patient’s ears.

For centuries, we have been fascinated by ‘out-of-body experiences’, with countless accounts of the phenomenon but little progress to explain it.

In recent years, researchers have been speculating, without evidence, that vestibular disorders – such as leaking of the inner ear or an infection of a nerve near the ear drum – could be the trigger for such an episode. 

Now, neuroscientists in France have compiled the first population-based evidence to support the idea that it is caused by a disconnect between our normal visual system and vestibular system.

The study by Aix-Marseille Université has been hailed as a major steps in terms of understanding the mysterious phenomenon.

To investigate the subject, lead investigator Christophe Lopez collaborated with an expert in the vestibular system, Maya Elzière.

The two analysed 210 of Elzière’s patients, all of whom were being treated for various issues with dizziness that stem from vestibular disorders, such as infections and leaks. 

As a control, they also monitored 210 age- and gender-matched people with no history of dizziness.

First, they found that the majority of patients with dizziness had been diagnosed after showing symptoms of depression, anxiety and – more pressingly – feelings of depersonalization, that the doctors attributed to their vestibular disorders. 

This experience appeared to pre-empt an out-of-body experience.  

Of the patients with dizziness, 29 (14 per cent) claimed to have experienced an out-of-body experience. 

Meanwhile, 10 (five per cent) of the control group said the same. Those 10 had not experienced dizziness and did not suffer vestibular disorders, but had all suffered from depression-linked depersonalization.

Most of the patients experienced OBE only after they started having dizziness for the first time, Lopez explained. 

The team concluded that, while depression and feelings of depersonalisation can be a driving factor, ear-related issues drive up one’s risk of an out-of-body experience more than anything else.

‘In healthcare the majority of efforts and research focus on keeping people alive. 

”Recent para-psychological research, however, suggests that the sensation of drifting outside of one’s own body using virtual reality technology could help reduce death anxiety. 

‘Outrospectre explores the possible application of these findings in hospital surroundings where it could help terminal patients accept their own mortality with more comfort.

a mirror at the end of the track shocks users out of their out of body illusion, by confronting them with the image of their robotic reflection

a mirror at the end of the track shocks users out of their out of body illusion, by confronting them with the image of their robotic reflection

a mirror at the end of the track shocks users out of their out of body illusion, by confronting them with the image of their robotic reflection

Mr Kalkman has exhibited his creation in a number of locations over recent months, including at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven last month and the Victoria & Albert Museum in September

Mr Kalkman has exhibited his creation in a number of locations over recent months, including at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven last month and the Victoria & Albert Museum in September

Mr Kalkman has exhibited his creation in a number of locations over recent months, including at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven last month and the Victoria & Albert Museum in September

He is now hoping to put the project through scientific tests to establish its efficacy in a clinical setting

He is now hoping to put the project through scientific tests to establish its efficacy in a clinical setting

He is now hoping to put the project through scientific tests to establish its efficacy in a clinical setting

Mr Kalkman believes the sensation of drifting outside of one's own body using virtual reality technology could help reduce death anxiety

Mr Kalkman believes the sensation of drifting outside of one's own body using virtual reality technology could help reduce death anxiety

Mr Kalkman believes the sensation of drifting outside of one’s own body using virtual reality technology could help reduce death anxiety

To add a more physical element to the experience, a hammer taps the users chest every second to mimic a heartbeat

To add a more physical element to the experience, a hammer taps the users chest every second to mimic a heartbeat

To add a more physical element to the experience, a hammer taps the users chest every second to mimic a heartbeat

‘This project investigates unanswered questions about mortality and ‘end of life’.’

Mr Kalkman has exhibited his creation in a number of locations over recent months, including at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven last month and the Victoria & Albert Museum in September.

He is now hoping to put the project through scientific tests to establish its efficacy in a clinical setting. 

He has also created the OpenSurgery project, an open-source machine that lets people perform keyhole surgery on themselves using a games console controller.

 

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