Stage fright hero image

Stage fright

Experiental project by Luke Ward

    Scope of work:

  • Immersive Environment
  • Virtual Reality Therapy
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Design Installation

About the project

Stage Fright is an immersive environment built to deliver Exposure Therapy where users interact with harmless virtual representations of traumatic stimuli in order to reduce fear responses.


The primary goal of this concept, is not to develop tools for normal daily tasks, but rather to offer therapeutic expression through movement and connectivity.

Patients receiving virtual reality therapy navigate through digitally created environments and complete specially designed tasks often tailored to treat a specific ailment.

Virtual reality has been used for decades as a tool for therapists to administer virtual reality exposure therapy in a safe and controlled manner. Due to cost and technology limitations, it has not been widely available, to date. This is where my concept grew from, to create an accessible and stimulating DIY CAVE experience.

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Development process

To create a sense of full immersion, the 5 senses must perceive the digital environment to be physically real. Immersion into virtual reality is a perception of being physically present in a non-physical world. The perception is created by surrounding the user of the VR system in images, sound or other stimuli that provide an engrossing total environment.

The degree to which the virtual or artistic environment faithfully reproduces reality determines the degree of suspension of disbelief. The greater the suspension of disbelief, the greater the degree of presence achieved.

To achieve this I focused on three of the senses; sight, sound and touch by using panoramic 3D displays (visual), Surround sound acoustics (auditory) and haptics and force feedback (touch)
By using my knowledge of the motion tracking studio and fear cognition, and by correlating the two with little or no noticeable latency, I will be able to elaborate such associations.

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Final result

CAVE systems are highly expensive and impractical and most companies offering virtual exposure therapy use VR headsets. I plan to focus my experience around combining the two and establishing the practice of rehabilitation and therapy whether that be PTSD or a phobia and introducing it into an immersive environment.
There often is an avoidance behaviour that stems from the anxiety of the afflicted and due to cost and technology limitations, Virtual reality exposure therapy has not been widely available, to date.
I managed to bring the idea of a CAVE and exposure therapy to an accessible and identifiable level that a range of users can participate in and enjoy using.

review design document