According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), around one in four people in the world is affected by a form of mental disorder.
The medical profession is increasingly resorting to virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to treat mental illness. Virtual reality is used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and paranoia syndromes as well as depression.
Virtual war zones
VR technology has been successfully used as a treatment for war veterans who, equipped with headsets, revisit the dangerous zones they were deployed in, for instance. Depression and anxiety can be soothed by enabling patients to experience a particularly pleasant and relaxing environment. For example, a VR programme allowing people to virtually swim in the sea with dolphins has been successfully implemented in some Californian hospitals to help patients who feel depressed.
IEC has formed a joint technical committee with ISO, JTC 1, which prepares standards for information technology. One of its subcommittees publishes documents which specify the requirements for augmented reality (AR) and VR. IEC TC 110 publishes standards for electronic displays. One of its working groups has developed the first edition of IEC 63145-20-20, which establishes the measurement conditions for determining the image quality of eyewear displays.
Predicting suicidal tendencies
High-powered machine learning algorithms can be used to detect patterns of behaviour revealing depression and suicidal tendencies. A report, produced by scientists at USC, Carnegie Mellon University, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, investigates non-verbal facial expressions in order to detect suicidal risks. It claims to have found a pattern that differentiates depressed and suicidal patients. The dataset used in the research comprises interviews with subjects from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and the Princeton Community Hospital.
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 42 prepares standards for AI. IEC is also a co-founder of the Open Community for Ethics in Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (OCEANIS), which deals with key ethical issue relating to AI.
While we are not quite there yet, vocal assistants in our mobile phones are expected, at some point in the near future, to detect suicidal tendencies by the sound of our voices or what we say, even in a cryptic fashion. And once they have detected these tendencies, they could give the right sort of advice. We all know how useful smartphones have become in our daily lives. In a few years from now, they might even play an active part in saving peoples’ lives. Read more in: Mind games