Smoking Prevention With Virtual Reality

Period of Performance: 01/01/1998 - 03/31/1999

Unknown

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Interface Technologies Corporation
1840 41ST AVE, SUITE 102
Capitola, CA 95010
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Goals. This project will develop and evaluate an immersive virtual environment, MetaWorldsTM, that will employ cognitive-behavioral techniques (Life Skills Training) to help prevent tobacco use by adolescents. Using head-mounted displays, teens will experience dynamic, 3D, multisensory representations of educational modules utilizing Life Skills Training to combat tobacco risks in a game format. Projected goals include large scale integration of MetaWorlds into schools and clinics and for long-term follow up to determine the stability of outcomes. Design. Participating teens will be randomly assigned to one of three groups. Members of the treatment group will use MetaWorldsTM for eight 50-minute sessions. Members of one control group will participate in eight 50-minute group counseling sessions on cognitive-behavioral skills. Members of the second control group will be on a waiting list. Physiological measures, subjective ratings, and individual recorded interviews will be used to assess the effectiveness of the intervention for preventing smoking onset. Innovation. This is the first application to integrate cognitive-behavioral techniques related to smoking prevention with immersive virtual environment technology, and provide empirical data on how advanced technology can improve health behaviors. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION MetaWorldsTM is an immersive VE that helps teens acquire cognitive- behavioral skills to prevent the use of tobacco products. MetaWorlds is based on powerful, low-cost computer systems developed for entertainment, so the hardware is affordable and widely available. The primary market includes schools and clinics, with secondary markets in therapists' offices and homes.