Virtual Reality Helps Smokers Quit
A screenshot from the cigarette-crushing game
Smokers who regularly play a computer game that involves crushing virtual cigarettes could have a better chance of kicking the habit. At least, that’s the implication of an experiment carried out by researchers at the University of Quebec in Canada and published in the latest issue of CyberPsychology and Behavior.
Virtual reality has been used to treat a variety of disorders including phantom limb syndrome, arachnophobia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even the pain experienced by burn victims.
In the University of Quebec study, 91 smokers played either the cigarette-crushing game or a ball-grasping game via a motion-tracking, head-mounted display over 3 months. In each game, players wandered around a medieval castle and used a virtual arm (controlled by a wireless game pad) to either find and crush floating cigarettes or grasp virtual balls. At the end of the three months, 15% of those in the cigarette-crushing group said they had cut down on smoking (as measured by carbon monoxide levels in an exhale test), compared to 2% of the ball-grasping group.
Aside from better smoking abstinence, those who played the cigarette-crushing game also reported having lower nicotine cravings.
The researchers speculate that crushing virtual cigarettes may help smokers feel more confident about quitting. The game may have also help players associate crushing cigarettes with the feeling of winning.
It would be interesting to know if a regular video game would have a similar effect, or if a more immersive virtual reality experience is crucial.
The inside story of how ChatGPT was built from the people who made it
Exclusive conversations that take us behind the scenes of a cultural phenomenon.
ChatGPT is about to revolutionize the economy. We need to decide what that looks like.
New large language models will transform many jobs. Whether they will lead to widespread prosperity or not is up to us.
Sam Altman invested $180 million into a company trying to delay death
Can anti-aging breakthroughs add 10 healthy years to the human life span? The CEO of OpenAI is paying to find out.
GPT-4 is bigger and better than ChatGPT—but OpenAI won’t say why
We got a first look at the much-anticipated big new language model from OpenAI. But this time how it works is even more deeply under wraps.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.