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Swedish pharmacy prescribes VR pain relief app

Sport & Fitness

Apotek Hjärtat is using Happy Place, a series of virtual reality outdoor scenes, as a supplement to traditional pharmaceutical pain relief treatments.

Distracting the mind with virtual scenes of nature and calm stimuli is increasingly being found to be an effective method of relieving temporary pain. Working with startup Mimerse, a therapeutic app developer, Sweden’s pharmacies created the virtual reality Happy Place. Designed to supplement traditional pharmaceutical treatments, Happy Place can help alleviate aches and pains like vaccinations, menstrual cramps, tattoos and sore muscles.

Using a painterly style of artwork, Happy Place tracks users’ eye movements, eliminating the need for extensive instructions and buttons. Users can interact with the scenes as much or as little as they like. Some people prefer to gaze at the scenery, whereas others prefer the challenge of finding the objects that, when gazed upon for a bit longer than usual, unveil new aspects of the environment. Happy Place is available from some Apotek Hjärtat pharmacies and for free from the Oculus store.

Virtual reality is being used as a supplement to a number of different industries, from virtual crime scene re-enactments for jurors to emergency birth care education. How could the technology be used ethically for personal use in less connected communities?

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