Limbix Uses VR to Help Teens Learn How to Manage Depression with the Help of Pixvana

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OverviewLimbix and Pixvana joined forces to create an interactive VR therapy experience designed to give teens a new way to overcome depression.

AboutLimbix is a technology company using virtual reality in healthcare to treat people who suffer from anxiety, pain, depression, trauma, and addiction-related disorders.

ResultsThe experience will be tested on a teen audience in a clinical trial conducted at Stony Brook University beginning in January 2019 and included in the Limbix VR Kit in early 2019.

HeadquartersPalo Alto, California


The Challenge

Depression is a growing issue among adolescents today: between 2005 and 2015, teens in the U.S. suffering from depression rose from 8.7% to 12.7%. It is estimated that depression will eventually impact 20% of youth currently aged 13-18.
So, Limbix, a technology company using virtual reality for mental healthcare, and Pixvana, a VR business solutions provider, have joined forces to create an interactive virtual reality experience designed to give teens a new approach to overcoming depression.

The Solution

Pixvana was selected as a partner on this project for its deep technological, production and creative expertise, allowing Limbix to focus on what they do best—developing targeted lessons and integrating research. As a result, the two companies have prepared a pilot for a high-quality and compelling VR experience that aims to engage and educate teens about depression in a new, impactful way.

The Limbix-Pixvana team collaborated with researchers from Harvard, Stony Brook, and UT Austin to develop a first-of-its-kind psychoeducational experience to provide teens with Growth Mindset Training. A growth mindset is an understanding that anyone can develop their abilities and intelligence. By depicting various situations that could lead to depression in adolescents, the VR experience teaches teens how their brains function and how thoughts and feelings develop. The goal is to help them understand that they have control of these thoughts and, with a growth mindset, can change how they think and feel about their experiences.

To produce these compelling experiences, Pixvana used a high-end Yi Halo Jump camera rig, fitted with 17 individual camera modules, to create an experience that would resonate with the teen audience. Relying on decades of expertise in visual and aural effects, Pixvana delivered world-class stereoscopic 360-degree videos in 8k resolution, with rich 4-channel ambisonic audio. The final product included 22 total shots that were placed into four branching storylines.

To create the branching storyline, Pixvana harnessed the power of SPIN Studio, Pixvana’s proprietary VR-native platform for editing, creating, and sharing interactive VR stories. Its end-to-end toolset helps teams work faster without long rendering sequences. In this case, Pixvana was able use SPIN Studio’s VR editing software to quickly iterate 360 experiences and share the changes in-headset with the Limbix team. This made feedback fast and accurate, reducing time-to-completion by days, if not weeks.

There are fundamental issues with access to mental health care, especially for our adolescent population who is at an alarmingly increased risk of experiencing major depressive episodes,” said Ogle. “Despite advancements in pharmaceuticals and therapy techniques, treatment for depression is often inaccessible to young teens. That’s why we’ve teamed with Pixvana to leverage innovative technology to deliver VR solutions that can be made readily available to a tech-savvy audience with lasting impact—and used by healthcare professionals everywhere to improve patient care.

The Results

This experience will be tested on a teen audience in a clinical trial conducted at Stony Brook University beginning in January 2019. It will also be available in the Limbix VR Kit in early 2019, helping it reach global audiences.

A trailblazer in its industry, Limbix is one of the first companies to use VR experiences to conduct effective exposure therapy for its patients and to make therapeutic experiences more widely accessible. Over 300 peer-reviewed studies show that VR is among the more effective tools for treating mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction. Limbix has applied their research across numerous VR experiences with positive results. Some conditions for which they’ve deployed this unique approach include:

  • Exposure therapy for patients suffering from anxiety, trauma, or phobias
  • Skills training to help those recovering from substance abuse disorders to practice responding to triggers and refusing the abused substance
  • Mindfulness exercises to ease anxiety and increase feelings of wellbeing

“Working with Limbix on this project was fantastic,” said Aaron Rhodes, Executive Producer at Pixvana and director of the production. “They are pushing the boundaries on mental health treatment and making an impact on real-world patients. It was an honor to collaborate with them on such an innovative use of VR, and we’re excited to work with them on future projects.”

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