Samsung Gear VR to be used in hospitals to diagnose mental health problems

Samsung's Gear VR headsets will get an all-new use in 2018, with the company announcing plans to use the virtual reality wearables to help diagnose mental health problems.

Partnering with the Gangnam Severance Hospital and VR specialists FNI, the intention is to roll out the tech to hospitals, schools and mental health care institutes commercially next year.

The move will see Samsung providing the hardware, FNI developing the software, and the Gangnam Severance Hospital making use of its specialist medical data in order to make the VR tools efficient and accurate.

Cognitive therapy

A large part of what will be on offer through the VR tools will be based on cognitive behaviour therapies – a perfect use-case for virtual reality. It will allow the trio to expose patients safely to digital recreations of things associated with an illness or its trigger, with analytics from the VR programs themselves likely useful in the diagnoses process. According to Zdnet, "suicide prevention and psychological assessment will be the focus" areas.

In addition, other Samsung gadgetry will be used in the development of the diagnoses tools. Most interesting is the mention of the Gear S3 smartwatch, and the AI-powered Bixby assistant, suggesting biometric readings and machine-learning interpretations of data could be used.

While much of the focus around VR has been on gaming and entertainment uses, there is great potential for virtual reality experiences to help in the treatment of PTSD, and in general wellness with things like meditation apps.