Virtual Reality is everywhere today. Products are either nearing launch or are in their launch windows. There are issues outstanding, mainly technical and some pricing psychology, but VR is here to stay. How do companies convince consumers the technology is worth slapping a headset on and stomaching the costs?

Samsung VR is pushing the narrative it can be used for more than games or other ‘experiences.’ The company’s new campaign focuses on using virtual reality to overcome phobias. Hate heights? It can help.

Afraid to speak in public? Train for that speech or presentation in a simulation.

The experiments, conducted with 27 participants from across the globe, form the basis of Samsung’s ‘Launching People’ campaign. One of the videos takes the name a bit literally as it simulates throwing you off a skyscraper attached to a zip line.

That’s one way to combat a fear of heights.

Each video follows a person as they tackle their phobia. Salminaz, a fashion designer, is learning to overcome her fear of public speaking so she can prepare pitches to potential investors in her business.

I wish I had this in college. Most people knock out the speech class requirement their freshman year. Me? Last semester of my senior year. Not a fan.

Watching Salminaz, it’s easier to be sold on the potential of VR. We have the Oculus Dev Kit, and it is undoubtedly amazing to use. Except the roller coaster simulation. Hello, motion sickness. You’ve never seen someone rip off a headset that fast.

But, Samsung and others are presenting a new way to view Virtual Reality. Learning new subjects. Overcoming social fears. Of course, we all want to play games on it. I know I do, but VR will depend on its ability to extend beyond a game.

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samsung BeFearless campaign

Samsung VR Experiment

It’s a marketing campaign, but the company is backing it with hard data. The 27 participants were tracked using the company’s smart wearables. Using the heart rate data collected, they combined internal stats with that of the VR lab at the Yonsei University Gangnam Severance Hospital in South Korea.

The lab conducted a study of 82 participants that saw a 90 percent success rate in reducing anxiety in those that had fears of public speaking or heights.

Samsung’s research reported 87.5 percent of participants who had a fear of heights saw a reduction in anxiety levels of 23.6 percent. Fear of public speaking participants saw an average reduction of 18.7 in anxiety.

The numbers come from both self-assessments and tests that measured heart rate and eye movement. Not insignificant numbers by any stretch. And it’s something patients could use at home in conjunction with other treatment options.

Samsung Launching People

The ad campaign was developed by Cheil Worldwide and continues the march of brands away from materialism and into ‘how their tech changes the world.’

“This generation does not define themselves by what they have, but by what they do,” says Wain Choi, chief creative officer at Cheil Worldwide, in a statement accompanying the new campaign’s launch. “They are experience seekers who want to discover new and amazing things, live experiences they never thought possible. Through Samsung Gear VR, anyone can reach their full potential. We all have what it takes inside us, but sometimes we can use a little help.”

Can that come across as the over-the-top? Maybe, but for people suffering from various phobias, it opens the door to overcome them in a way that isn’t stigmatized. It also shows the promise of technology to tackle actual problems facing your friends, neighbors and even ourselves.

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