Dolphins meet virtual reality.
A Dutch non-profit is strapping waterproof VR headsets on people in pools so they can “swim with dolphins.”
Dolphin Swim Club has been offering the experience, named Dolphin VR, as “dolphin-assisted therapy” since last month. While submerged, you can watch video reels of bottlenose dolphins swimming in their natural habitat.
VR specialists Viemr had divers capable of holding their breath for up to 5-minutes record the footage during a 10-day shoot at the Red Sea in December 2015.
The organization claims the treatments have helped people with conditions ranging from insomnia to arm pain.
“Some 82 percent of our clients feel actually relaxed by seeing the films,” the organization’s policy advisor Johan Elbers told AFP.
The Dutch government provided a 50,000 euro ($59,000) grant to develop the waterproof VR goggles, which contain a Samsung smartphone mounted on a 3D-printed rig made of recycled plastic.
AFP reports that more than 150 hospitals, universities and community centers are also offering a dry version of Dolphin VR.
But according to Psychology Today, multiple studies have found that therapy with real dolphins doesn’t meet “even the minimal standards of medical clinical trials.”
Dolphin VR is the brainchild of artist Marijke Sjollema, who was captivated over two decades ago after she snorkeled beside a dolphin off Mexico’s coast in 1993.
Sjollema and her husband have since used their spare time to bring the experience of swimming with dolphins to others.
“We know that there is something magical about dolphins,” Sjollema told AFP. “We think of joy, and playfulness and happiness and innocence when we meet dolphins. And this is even a healing quality.”
You can watch a video from Dolphin Swim Club below.
Image Credit: Dolphin Swim Club