AR App Phobys Can Help You Overcome the Fear of Spiders
AR App Phobys

AR App Phobys Can Help You Overcome the Fear of Spiders

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Researchers from the University of Basel have developed an AR app to help people battle their fear of spiders. The app has displayed its efficacy during a clinical trial by significantly reducing the fear of real spiders amongst the participants after completing just a few training modules taken at home.

Fear of spiders or Arachnophobia is one of the most common phobias, leading the victims to draw themselves away from situations involving spiders. One of the effective treatments for the condition is “exposure therapy,” wherein the individuals are subjected to guided situations to break down the fear gradually. However, it’s seldom used because people with phobia are reluctant to subject themselves to real spiders.

Nevertheless, the interdisciplinary research team led by Professor Dominique de Quervain has created a smartphone-based augmented reality app called Phobys to help with the situation. The researchers have witnessed promising results with this app, published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

Phobys is based on the idea of exposure therapy and deploys a realistic 3D spider model superimposed over the actual surroundings. “It’s easier for people with a fear of spiders to face a virtual spider than a real one,” said Anja Zimmer, lead author of the study.

The application features nine different levels varying in terms of closeness and interactions with the virtual spider. With each successive level, the interactions become more intensive and harder to navigate. Each level concluded with an assessment to evaluate fear and disgust for deciding whether the user should repeat the level or move on to the next one. The app also sports features such as rewarding feedback, animation, and sound effects to help the users stay at the right level of motivation.

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