VR Lying Down? It Could Help Relax You

Take a breath and soak in the view

Key Takeaways

  • Users will soon have more options to use VR (virtual reality) passively instead of moving around. 
  • Diver-X plans to release a VR headset next month that’s meant to be used lying down.
  • Dental patients can use VR to explore virtual worlds while getting their teeth worked on.
Someone laying on a sofa using a VR system and headphones.

Westend61 / Getty Images

Virtual reality (VR) isn't just for gaming anymore.

Companies are rapidly expanding VR software and gear for passive interactions. Diver-X plans to release a VR headset next month that's meant to be used lying down. And VR gear is now used for everything from meditation to dental visits. 

"We are able to adapt to immersive environments much more intuitively than any previous digital, and invariably screen-based format could ever hope to achieve, however passive or active the experience itself is," Amir Bozorgzadeh, the CEO of VR company Virtuleap, told Lifewire in an email interview.

"VR environments mimic real-world physics and laws that we are inherently designed to relate to."

Horizontal VR

Diver-X's HalfDive VR headset could be perfect for those who like to recline. The device is a VR module with hand and foot controllers. The helmet has lenses that provide a viewing angle of 134 degrees, four stereo speakers, and several vibration motors for transmitting tactile sensations such as banging and shooting. In addition, two fans can be attached to the device to improve immersion.

"More people are living in skyscrapers and apartment blocks without a calm space within reach."

The developers plan to raise funds for the production of the headset on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. The basic version of HalfDive will cost $800, and a kit with a complete set of controllers will cost $1,200. The version with varifocal lenses will sell for $4,000.

The HalfDive also offers force feedback. 

"Powered by an exciter, HalfDive's vibration feedback system presents the user highly realistic audios of monsters' footsteps, gunshots, and environmental sounds, contributing to the user's highly improved immersive experience," according to the company's website

Passive VR

While many current VR entertainment titles involve some motion, observers say there's a growing market for more passive software. 

For example, with the Digital Nitrous OperaVR system, dental patients get a VR headset to wear while sitting in the dental chair. The dentist or clinician chooses from dozens of virtual environments designed specifically for limited head movement for the patient.

"What's revolutionary about Digital Nitrous is that it's a drug-free way to create a calm that typically came only after the administration of drugs, such as nitrous oxide," Dr. Bryan Laskin, the creator of OperaVR, told Lifewire in an email interview.

"Drugs always come with risks and side effects. Patients love VR. In fact, Digital Nitrous has helped patients who have avoided the dentist for most of their adult lives come back to dentistry."

Passive VR can also be used for everyday relaxation. 

Max Dewkes is part of a design team working on a VR meditation game set to be released next year. The game is set on a calm and peaceful island. The player will come across characters that'll share wisdom, teach meditation, and demonstrate mindfulness. 

"We live in an age of unlimited options," Dewkes told Lifewire in an email interview. "If you live in a city, there is little you can't do. But this has birthed its own problem, which is the difficulty of finding space just to be. Even in the greenest cities, the parks are often crowded. More people are living in skyscrapers and apartment blocks without a calm space within reach. VR can fill this void."

A new kind of event recently combined a real-life electronic dance music festival with a global virtual audience live-streaming for slightly more active participation. The participants met and interacted through a 3D screen, the Dream Portal

Porter Robinson's Second Sky festival took place in Oakland, Calif. As Porter and others performed, live event-goers could visit the Dream Portal tent, which houses the 20-by-13-foot 3D LED screen. 

Someone sitting under a curtain of lights using a VR headset and controls.

Barbara Zandoval / Unsplash

Boosted by 3D glasses, they can interact with people enjoying the festival remotely in real-time. In the virtual space, the Dream Portal rotates through different environments, displaying a live camera feed of the individuals at the real-world tent, where the two sides can interact together. 

"By combining web technology with a physical installation, we're able to make connections between even more platforms," Nick Mountford, the managing director of Active Theory, which makes the Dream Portal, told Lifewire in an email interview. "Simply by standing next to the 3D wall, people are captured by the Dream Portal and transported into the virtual world."

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