By Steve Dellar  |  11-25-2017   News
Photo credit: Youtube Screenshot 'Dezeen'

Visitors to the Dutch Design Week exhibition can’t stop talking about the work of Dutch designer Frank Kolkman who has created a machine to tackle "death anxiety" amongst terminally ill patients, by letting them experience via computer and robotic help what it’s like to be dead.

The device induces an out-of-body experience using virtual reality.

Mr Kolkman's device relies on video footage of the real environment instead of computer-generated visuals. Users stand directly in front of a robotic head, which is fitted with a 3D camera in each of its eyes.

The head, which is mounted on a vertical trolley track then begins to slide backwards and gives the user, who is wearing a 3D headset, the impression of moving outside of his own body. And if the user wants to look in another direction, the robotic head mimics the movements in real time, making it possible to look around and observe the environment outside of your own body.

There are also "ears", microphones positioned at opposite sides of the robotic face, so the user has the feeling of hearing everything around the robotic head as well.

Mr Kolkman explained: "Our brains utilise subtle differences in timing and timbre to identify the origin of a detected sound in direction and distance, and where you are in relation to it,"

"The same goes for the video feed – by removing the ears from the body and placing them in a different location, your sense of location and presence can be hacked."

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"The experience of being 'present' outside of your body can be so convincingly subtle that we had to break the illusion."

"We believe the experience is most powerful when you are mentally aware of what is going on, and yet your senses are convincing you otherwise."

80% of all people who tested the device experienced the sensation of physically moving outside of their own body.


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