Vermont developers use smell in virtual reality to examine mental health.

Virtual reality, which lets you experience a computer-generated, three-dimensional world, is getting more advanced. A burlington start up, OVR (Olfactory Virtual Reality), is combining virtual reality with our sense of smell.

OVR Co-founder and CEO Aaron Wisniewski said “VR can be an effective way to manage pain, stress, and anxiety,”

The company now wants to use its potential for mental health and Wisniewski has established a partnership with UVM Medical Center

“It’s unique from all of our other senses,” he added, “because it’s directly linked to the part of our brain that controls memory emotion and influences our motivation and our behavior.”

Wisniewski began his research of the sense of smell at an early life. At TedX Presentation in May 2019 Stowe, he spoke about the history of smell. Also, the role and prospects for the future included in it.

In augmented worlds, a patient can not only see a different dimension but also smell those things. Dr David Tomasi, a UVM Medical Center psychotherapist, says this may help patients with stress , anxiety , depression, and PTSD. “Virtual reality seems to do just that. To provide a nurturing and therapeutically effective approach to therapy that will also go beyond the traditional psychotherapeutic modalities,” said Dr. Tomasi.

Wisniewski develops thousands of scents together with his team. In his studio, flavors like pizza, rose, and watermelon sit in bottles on the shelf. He says the pandemic is exacerbating the need for this technology.

“It makes this type of study I think even more important,” he stated. “As people look towards telehealth and digital therapeutics and technologies for their healthcare, you know, I think this is a time when we probably need it the most.”

Wisniewski and Tomasi plan to study patients’ experiences with the technology in the coming weeks, and they strongly believe in its health benefits.

“Olfactory Virtual Reality can be an effective part of a comprehensive mental health strategy,” supposed Wisniewski.

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