Is this the future of counseling?
A recent South Korean documentary entitled, “I met you”, attracted global attention, depicting a mother being reunited with her deceased daughter through virtual reality. Using VR and haptic feedback gloves, the mother, Jan Ji-sung, meets the digital recreation of her daughter in a virtual space. The digi-double's movement was made life-like using motion data captured by Xsens MVN Animate with the help of Xsens partner in South Korea, Motion Technologies.
But is this approach to grief counselling quite as controversial as it first appears?
In the full documentary we find out that the mother had recently lost her daughter to cancer and was struggling to come to terms with grief—this resulted in her developing serious depression. The idea behind the VR experience, led by VIVE studios, was to provide Jan Ji-sung with an opportunity to find emotional closure and move forward psychologically.
Rather than meet an exact replica of her child for one-to-one interactivity, this experience was carefully designed to simulate different events that the parent might find consoling, such as a birthday party or putting a child to bed. Although the piece has been widely debated online and by the press, ultimately, the team behind the project is set out to help the mother overcome some of the mental barriers preventing her from accepting the event.
The experience is touching and clearly demonstrates the level of immersion felt by the mother as she responds seemingly as she might with a real person. However, unlike the actress playing her daughter outside of the headset, this simulation allows Jan Ji-sung to project her own memory of her daughter onto the animation symbolically. The effect is clear, and the technology has the potential to revolutionize grievance counseling.
For specific cases, this type of technology could be utilized in the future to help other individuals like Jan Ji-sung to digitally face up to the realities of their grief, much in the same way cognitive behavioral therapy is utilized for other mental health issues today. It’s a fair response to react to something like this with some apprehension, but as technology continues to enhance the personal lives of society, a curated virtual world may provide consolation to some individuals and isn’t as alien an idea as it may first appear.
Motion Technologies in South Korea utilized the Xsens MVN Animate motion capture solution for this project. MVN Animate is Xsens' proprietary software application to record and view motion capture data for Xsens MVN motion capture. By requesting a trial you can try out this software yourself.
During the trial period you will have a fully functional version of the software, including pre-recorded data.