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Therapy and Support

More Press About Foretell Reality Support Groups

Here is another article highlighting Foretell Reality’s partnership with XRHealth to bring mediated, virtual reality support groups to those seeking human-like connection and comfort while remote.

Though timely with the outbreak of COVID-19, the goal of virtual reality support groups is to allow anyone with any condition to to meet in a group to share their experiences and treatments. This includes cancer patients at Yale School of Medicine who are also currently using Foretell.

Read more here: https://www.affinityvr.com/is-vr-a-solution-to-covid-19/

virtual reality (VR) support groups
Therapy and Support

Foretell Reality and XRHealth to Provide VR Support Groups

Foretell Reality, a Glimpse Group subsidiary, has partnered with XRHealth to provide Virtual Reality (VR) support groups to help patients with similar ailments, including people in isolation. The service will launch on April 1st, and is covered by Medicare and most major insurance providers in various states and cities across the US.

The experience replicates that of a real-world support group session. Participants will select a specific support group to attend, customize their virtual appearance as an avatar, and join a circle of up to 8 participants in a zen-like virtual room (see photo). A trained moderator will guide the session and participants will interact through gestures and voice in a life-like, three-dimensional environment.

“We’ve learned that one of the key benefits of virtual reality for support and therapy is the focus it brings to interactions between individuals and groups. The lack of distractions combined with a immersive and realistic environment that surrounds and shared by all participants, while they are physically located afar from each other, is conducive to a highly engaging discussion that is not replicable through other means of remote communications (e.g., video or chat). We also see that the self representation through an avatar helps patients to overcome the initial hesitation of sharing personal information and expose their emotions,” says Dror Goldberg, GM of Foretell Reality.

Noting the current situation many people find themselves in, Goldberg goes on to say that “the ability for a diverse group of people to share experiences and information in an immersive, focused environment will help provide a feeling of comfort in the face of fear and isolation.  Group empathy and understanding are instrumental to our well being and virtual reality provides a tangible feeling of group presence. This is even more acute when people are remote from each other and cannot gather in-person for various reasons – from physical limitations to forced isolation like we unfortunately experience now with this pandemic outburst.”

Anyone who is a patient of XRHealth Virtual Clinic can attend the offered virtual reality support groups. XRHealth Virtual clinic is listed in over 17 states already. The process of joining XRHealth clinic is described here https://www.xr.health/join and includes the following stages:

Step 1: Eligibility check and equipment signup. Step 2: Live video kickoff with a clinician. Step 3: 90 days treatment program consisting of personalized VR training, progress reports, and live video check-ups with a clinician. Once an XRHealth patient, user is able to select the application “Connect by Foretell Reality” from the VRHealth application installed on their VR device and join a support group room that they have been scheduled for.

vr ar classroom
Collaboration

It is time to adopt AR and VR into the classroom

It was not all that surprising that the most popular areas of my daughter’s elementary school science fair last week were tables where kids could build, design, and problem solve with each other.

While everyone appreciated the stationary displays, the real engagement came when kids got together to practice and learn both hard skills like paper robot building and soft skills like negotiation, teamwork, and empathy.

And then it struck me that there may be no school next week or even the week after. I know there will be online classes but that is not a substitute for what kids need to continue to stay competitive confident, and connected.

As Glimpse Group CEO Lyron Bentovim points out in his argument for modernizing classrooms with AR and VR capabilities, humans are social, collaborative, and spatial learners and AR and VR are the only technologies that fully support this type of learning.

We need to get AR and VR into schools now so our kids remain engaged when they cannot be together in person. The prices are no longer prohibitive but the cost will be high if we cannot keep our kids engaged in learning, especially in difficult times.

virtual reality (VR) remote work
Collaboration

Virtual Reality and Remote Work Isolation

Research indicates that remote work will equal, if not surpass, fixed office locations by the year 2025. Already, 70% of professionals work remotely at least one day a week and over 50% work remotely half the week.

And there are good reasons as highlighted in this recent article that lists 17 benefits remote working brings to both employers and employees. Among them are the fact that remote workers are 13% more productive – mainly due to taking fewer sick days, 83% of workers feel they would be happier working from home, and companies save $11k annually per remote worker.

But what is sometimes overlooked with all of the benefits of remote working is the feeling of isolation that can occur when teams are dispersed. Lost are shared lunches with colleagues, cross-functional events that bring different teams together, and after work happy hours.

And this can have real effects. According to a recent Gallup study, perceived workplace isolation can lead to a 21% performance drop while another study from Future Work found feelings of isolation having significant effects on employee engagement and retention.

While platforms like Slack and WebEx allow teams to communicate instantly through text or through scheduled video chat, they do not replicate the feeling of presence and connection that occurs with face-to-face interactions and meetings around the office.

Enter virtual reality, a technology that opens the door to providing a shared environment for people who are located remotely from each other. For similar reasons people who work remotely or independently look for physical co-working spaces, VR spaces provide the virtual version of WeWork and alike.

Unlike conference calls, screen shares, and chat streams, a shared work place in virtual reality offers a persistent location for workers, teams and even whole companies that feels more like a physical location than a specific productively tool.

Remote workers can have their own desks, connect with one another in separate conference rooms, share 2D and 3D content at any time, attend larger company events in virtual auditoriums, and even play games together like Ping Pong, Pool, or Beat Saber.

VR work spaces can also be personalized, engaging, and energizing, encouraging colleagues to come to the ‘office’ on a regular basis.

This will lead to more spontaneous meetings and interactions increasing engagement and innovation, especially for those who are feeling isolated. At the same time, with the click of a button, anyone can transfer to a virtual “quiet space” to focus with lack of interruption. And for employers, providing a center of gravity to a dispersed organization can help with retention and even recruitment.

Why does this matter? Remote working is not an anomaly anymore. It is the new normal. But it is also in direct conflict with the fact that humans are social animals. Working from home is good for the environment, work-life balance, and a company’s balance sheet, but we need new platforms to provide the human touch to support this new (virtual) reality.

Collaboration

What would you do with 163 billion more minutes a year?

A great article by Niclas Johansson highlighting the 7 benefits of VR for meetings.

He touches on a range of areas where VR is making a real impact on increasing engagement: feeling of presence, removal of distractions, limitless environments and interactions, saving the environment, and, perhaps most importantly, saving time and money.

I would add one more to the list:

8. Come back anytime, and stay as long as you like. Imagine a meeting room that is always available and does not require having to clean up after a collaborative session. No need to transcribe and erase the white boards, remove stickies, or unplug your laptop from the in-room display. A virtual meeting room can be accessed again at any time from anywhere to continue where the meeting left off or to reference the collaborative output that was created. And no one will be waiting at the door glaring at their watches if the meeting runs over time.

Also worth reading the comparison of platforms at the end of the article. While social VR will offer a new paradigm for group interactions, enterprise solutions will require a higher level of scalability, security, compliancy, and integration with existing systems. It will be exciting to see how those platforms evolve and gain traction.

To follow how Foretell Reality is approaching these challenges, visit our website and keep reading our blog posts.

Therapy and Support

Promising Results for VR Cancer Support Group

A joint study between Foretell Reality and Yale School of Medicine that compares VR support groups for cancer patients to traditional group therapy is starting to show some promising results according to a recent article published by MJH Life Sciences.

Ranging in age from 13-30 years old, patients have the ability to share their experiences in a safe and accessible setting without the need to travel back and forth to hospitals where they may be susceptible to infection, physical discomfort, and social unease.

Early indications are that the benefits above, as well as the option to remain anonymous, may reduce levels of anxiety and depression creating more open and meaningful interactions and communication between participants.

VR support groups also open the door to patients in underserved rural areas where travel is prohibitive and the lack of local groups can cause a feeling of isolation during a time when connection can be vital to the healing process.

Foretell Reality GM Dror Goldberg sees this study as the beginning of a paradigm shift in how VR is viewed. “There is plenty of news and case studies about VR and gaming and VR for the enterprise, but we are most interested in the ability for VR to facilitate real human connection by lowering physical and social barriers to one-to-one and group interactions. Seeing the early results of this study is exciting and a great motivator to continue to improve and add additional tools to the social experience in VR for support and therapy patients of all ages.”

As behavioral tele-health gains traction and the accessibility of VR continues to rise, studies like this one should propel large health organizations and insurers to offer VR solutions, like those from Foretell Reality, to patients who would benefit from an experience that is more lifelike and interactive than video or chat.

Soft Skills

Foretell & Fordham Partner to Teach Professional Skills

Soft skills are a critical part of job performance, but they can be hard to practice and learn.

Participating in role play exercises improves soft skills, but making role play convincing, effective, and accessible for those not comfortable with acting and improvisation can be difficult.

In response to this challenge, Fordham University turned to Foretell Reality to help their business students learn key professional skills by acting out real world scenarios in virtual environments. With new names, genders, appearances, and voices, students are immersed in simulations designed to improve skills like negotiation and networking.

“Your brain actually assumes you’ve experienced the simulated environment, and it brings educational concepts to life for students,” explains. “When they leave class, they don’t say, ‘We learned about negotiating today’; they say, ‘I negotiated today,’ or, ‘I led a business meeting today.’ explained Lyron Bentovim, CEO of Glimpse Group of which Foretell Reality is a subsidiary.

With more and more businesses seeing tangible ROI from VR training, higher education is now benefiting from the same virtual technologies to prepare their students for the ‘real world,’ in whatever format it appears.

Foretell Reality is an enterprise VR solution for interpersonal communication and business collaboration. Learn more here.

Collaboration

Three Ways VR Can Help A Remote Working World

Research indicates that remote work will equal, if not surpass, fixed office locations by the year 2025. Already, 70% of professionals work remotely at least one day a week and over 50% work remotely half the week.

Here are three ways VR helps increase collaborative productivity in an increasingly decentralized world:

Increases Focus and Attention

Currently, employees rely on some combination of phone calls, video conferencing, and group chat to communicate and collaborate remotely. Everyone is in their own world along with all the distractions that go along with it. With VR, remote participants meet in a singular, shared environment and interact through high quality audio, all encompassing visuals, and true-to-life movements and gestures. In short, the ‘real’ world does not distract focus from the work at hand.

Enables More Productive Collaboration

With VR, collaboration is not restricted to a meeting room or monitor. Collaborators in 3D environments can view content across multiple screens at the same time, manipulate and analyze objects from any angle, recreate real-world scenarios by embodying any persona, seamlessly break out into smaller sessions, and preserve the output of any collaborative session to revisit at a later point in the same space.

Creates a Feeling of Being There

As more people work from home, WeWorks, and local coffee shops for more days a week, employers will face the ongoing challenge of creating a work environment that feels tangible, connected, and real. Despite the name, virtual reality offers the closest thing to a real feeling of proximity, place, and community of any other communication technology that exists today.

With stand-alone VR headsets now less expensive than a typical mobile phone, there has never been a better time to introduce VR into the communication mix of any remote work force.

Foretell Reality is an enterprise VR solution for interpersonal communication and business collaboration. Learn more here.

virtual reality (VR) soft skills
Soft Skills

Business Students Sharpen Soft Skills in VR

As part of an ‘Exploring Entrepreneurship’ class, business school students at Fordham University in New York are engaging in social VR simulations designed to improve their soft skills aptitude by focusing on areas like negotiation, public speaking, confidence, and active listening.

In a recent Washington Post article highlighting the partnership, Lyron Bentovim, Chief Executive of the Glimpse Group which is Foretell’s parent company, commented: “Your brain actually assumes you’ve experienced the simulated environment, and it brings educational concepts to life for students. When they leave class, they don’t say, ‘We learned about negotiating today’; they say, ‘I negotiated today,’ or, ‘I led a business meeting today.’

As anonymous avatars, students can change their appearance and alter their voice to take on any role in a given scenario. And while those in VR are immersed in highly life-like experiences, their colleagues without headsets can learn from viewing the action on any monitor while also providing feedback in real time.

Foretell Reality worked closely with Fordham to develop learning environments that replicated real world scenarios students would face after graduation. Students wore Oculus stand-alone headsets which allowed them to move comfortably, further creating a sense of immersion.

Foretell Reality is an enterprise VR solution for interpersonal communication and business collaboration. Learn more here.

Therapy and Support

The Case for Kermit

I recently came across a series of interviews of people speaking openly and honestly about very personal challenges and traumas in their lives. A boy seeked solace about being bullied at school, a teenager told her story about being sent to a foster home, and an elderly man reconciled reaching the end of his life.

It wasn’t just their candor or the fact that millions of people viewed these videos on YouTube that struck me. It was that all the interviews were conducted in virtual reality with the interviewees veiled as avatars (one as Kermit the Frog).

Studies show that people are drawn to VR because it provides a feeling of authenticity while facilitating open communication in ways akin to real world interactions. This combined with the ability to move beyond physical appearances, remain anonymous if desired, and connect with people from all walks of life have resulted in more and more young people and adults spending time in highly immersive social VR worlds. And it is in these worlds that some of these same people are opening up and risking being vulnerable in ways they likely would not in a physical setting.

As an indicator of where social VR is heading, Facebook, which acquired Oculus in 2014, recently announced that it will be launching a social VR platform called ‘Horizon’ in 2020. Horizon will allow anyone with a stand-alone Oculus headset to customize avatars, socialize through voice and gestures, play games, and create and share user generated content. Given the sheer reach of Facebook, Horizon will vastly expand the number of friends using VR to connect and communicate. While this will accelerate adoption of social VR overall, it will leave behind those people who want to maintain their anonymity, and it will not address the need for safe, secure environments where those seeking help can receive it from professionals and support groups.

So why should this matter to the healing community? As VR becomes an integral part of the digital landscape much like audio, chat, and video is today, therapists and facilitators have an opportunity to reach those seeking help and support in a medium where their clients spend time and feel comfortable.

Just as teletherapy has expanded access to those who cannot or do not want to attend in-person sessions, VR offers another avenue to reach populations who feel more comfortable expressing themselves in a virtual versus physical setting.

And it is effective. A comprehensive study of 285 studies from the past 20 years showed that VR’s capability “to simulate reality could greatly increase access to psychological therapies, while treatment outcomes could be enhanced by the technology’s ability to create new realities.”

With the recent release of affordable, stand alone VR headsets, there has been no greater time for therapists and support group facilitators to reach out to those in need by embracing this groundbreaking technology.

Foretell Reality is an enterprise VR solution for interpersonal communication and business collaboration. Learn more here.

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