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Virtual Reality and mental health care, an excellent combination. At least, that is the approach of the GGzE. The VR Hub was launched yesterday afternoon on the Grote Beek. This hub focuses on the development of VR applications that support the healthcare. Joep Kolijn, Innovator eLab at the GGzE, opened the lab by introducing the public to the world of VR.

From claustrophobia to psychosis and from relaxation to a fear of heights, there is a lot to experience in VR. These are some examples of the projects that are being developed in the VR Hub. During the opening, the public is invited to experience this themselves. Kolijn: “We can tell you a lot about VR, but it’s really something you need to experience yourself.” According to Kolijn, Virtual Reality is a good way to expand care: “VR enables you to set up situations over and over again. For example, around the fear of flying. You can adjust the practice setting each time and someone can take off ten times. Which can normally not be realized. So you can adjust the space in which someone stands and at the same time increase the practice time. Because of that, there’s a good chance that you can shorten the duration of treatment. The big challenge is that we don’t know what this technology can mean yet. We also set up the Hub to find that out.”

“The big challenge is that we don’t know what this technology can mean yet. We also set up the Hub to find that out.”Joep Kolijn, Innovator eLab GGzE

Eindhoven is a central place for many VR companies and Kolijn expects the GGzE to become a part of this: “In Eindhoven, there are 42 companies working on Virtual Reality. With the Hub, we want to fill in that ecosystem and actually offer a place where it is possible to gain experience together and take steps towards better products.” Not only established companies but also startups are welcome in the VR Hub. An example of this is Mind Mansion, which tackles fears by confronting people with them in VR.

The VR Hub has to become an experimental garden where business, clients, and therapists are working on applications together. “We need a place where we, as caregivers, can practice with the technology. We want to come up with a way to use it in methodologies and treatments. But we lack the competence to develop things in VR, which companies do have. We have knowledge about mental health care and companies miss that knowledge”, Kolijn says. Joyce de Laat, project manager VR Hub GGzE, complements him: “There is going to be a better connection with the actual need, companies often think about the technical possibilities but often have less affinity with the needs in the workplace and of the end user. If we connect them in an early phase, you get a product that better connects with the method.”