This augmented reality app can help you conquer your fear of spiders

Basel, Switzerland - Most people with arachnophobia are extremely reluctant to expose themselves to real spiders – but what if the spiders only exit in the digital world?

Phobys allows you to face a virtual spider on your smartphone to help you come to terms with the thought of being close to the creepy crawlies.
Phobys allows you to face a virtual spider on your smartphone to help you come to terms with the thought of being close to the creepy crawlies.  © 123RF/sandipruel

Researchers have developed a new augmented reality app that allows you to face a virtual spider on your smartphone to help you come to terms with the thought of being close to the creepy crawlies.

The Phobys app (Android/iOS), which is available for Android and iOS, uses augmented reality (AR) in the phone’s camera view to show a virtual spider on your smartphone display. You can even choose to have the spider appear on your hand if you wish.

The app was developed by neuroscientists at the University of Basel in Switzerland who found that many sufferers were confident enough to confront virtual spiders.

In a clinical study, test subjects felt less fear of spiders after just a few training sessions using the app.

The app is free, but you have to pay 5 dollars to open up all nine levels. With each level the user gets gradually closer to the virtual spider and eventually interacts with it.

After completing a level the user’s fear and disgust is assessed by a questionnaire. Based on the responses, the app decides whether a user should repeat a level or progress to the next one. There’s also positive feedback along the way to encourage users.

The scientists say the app is suitable for people with mild forms of arachnophobia who are aged 16 and older. People with more serious arachnophobia should consult a medical professional before using the app.

Cover photo: 123RF/sandipruel

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