Some of you may have been lucky enough to experience an 'Out of Body Experience', or OBE for short. It's the phenomenon where you're standing outside of yourself, looking at yourself. Although it's a rare experience, the feeling can be unnerving especially for those who've experience it more than once.
Now researchers are working on a way to recreate the OBE on command, and it turns out that the process isn't complicated. Scientists are able to recreate the feeling of stepping outside your own skin by filming the test subjects from behind, before having them wear virtual reality (VR) headsets which display their own images.
But to really induce the sensation of being outside your skin, scientists added a visual effect to the video: a white aura which blinks in harmony with your heartbeat
. Once the blinking light is triggered, your perception shifts. You'll know that the body onscreen is yours, and you'll know that you're standing behind it.
These trippy experiences are cool, but scientists are hoping to do good with their technique. They theorize that reliably triggered OBEs could help patients suffering from incorrect body identities: like anorexia where people think they're larger than they actually are.
“They look in the mirror and think they are larger than they actually are. This may be because their brain does not update its representation of the body after losing weight, and the patient is therefore stuck with a perception of a larger self that is out of date.” says Jane Aspell of Anglia Ruskin University, UK, who conducted the study
. By showing them an outside view of themselves, these individuals can see exactly what they've been putting their bodies through.
And if not for health, there might also be a possibility for some awesome VR gaming applications further down the pipeline!Image via Louis.Pixel