Wearable psychosis

The use of wearable technology for augmented reality (AR) is well known. It can be give the user additional useful information about the surroundings and other contextual data. But what about using wearable technology to intentionally distort reality? That’s the concept behind a device created by an artist from the Netherlands, that she calls “The Wearable.” Part of a project called “Labyrinth Psychotica,” the device is described as a “do-it-yourself psychosis” or “digital LSD.”

The user dons a headset that includes imaging goggles and earphones, providing an immersive experience. Cameras feed images from the surrounding environment in real time, but a computer in a backpack alters this reality to simulate the experience of a fictional female patient named Jamie whose memories and experiences are blended with what the user sees and hears. A handheld control allows the user to interact with the simulation.

The system is intended to help psychologists develop an empathy and appreciation for the altered reality experienced by their psychotic patients. The system was recently put into use by the Psychiatry Department at Hamad Medical Corporation in Qatar, with support from Johnson & Johnson.