Cheil Worldwide and Samsung Electronics have set out to help people overcome deep-seated fears with technology. Samsung’s #BeFearless campaign seeks to empower young people to face their inner fears that can be a barrier in daily lives – whether it’s a fear of public speaking or heights – with the help of the immersive experience of virtual reality using Samsung Gear VR.
Samsung and Cheil Worldwide held virtual reality training sessions to find out how an exposure to challenging situations through virtual experience can help people master their fears in real life. Among nearly 7,500 applicants from Germany, Austria, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates, 27 selected people took part in the four-week training. After the training, participants were ready to face their fears, and celebrated their achievement by tackling situations which they never thought possible before – either by speaking in front of a large crowd at a theatre or by venturing a zip line ride.
“This generation does not define themselves by what they have, but by what they do. They are experience seekers who want to discover new and amazing things; live experiences they never thought possible,” said Wain Choi, Chief Creative Officer at Cheil Worldwide. “Through Samsung Gear VR, anyone can reach their full potential. We all have what it takes inside us, but sometimes, we can use a little help.”
Fear of public speaking is truly crippling that can hold people back from leading social life and professional success, while fear of heights can limit people’s boundaries. Participants were trained in three different scenarios at different levels of difficulty. To advance to the next level, participants had to pass each stage. The evaluation was based on several scientific and medically proven criteria such as heart rate (measured with Samsung Gear S smartwatch), eye movement and self-assessment of anxiety levels.
For people afraid of public speaking, they started with speaking in a small setting like a school debate, followed by a job interview or team meeting, and culminating in speaking to a large crowd in a virtual environment. Those who were afraid of heights experienced travelling up a transparent elevator, cliff driving, heli-skiing and a skywalk around a skyscraper.
The success of the #BeFearless program is backed up by the latest research by doctors at the Yonsei University Gangnam Severance Hospital in South Korea, who achieved a success rate of nearly 90 percent in reducing 82 participants’ anxiety of public speaking and heights through VR training programs.
In just two weeks, #BeFearless VR training helped 87.5 percent of the group who are afraid of heights to reduce their anxiety level by 23.6 percent. Even a larger number – 88.1 percent – of a group of people who have fear of public speaking managed to reduce their anxiety levels by 18.7 percent thanks to #BeFearless program.
#BeFearless is part of “Launching People”, an overarching campaign, in a search for innovative ideas that can demonstrate how powerful technology can be when it comes to solving real challenges that society faces. One of its successful campaigns is “Look at Me,” a mobile application developed by Samsung and Cheil Worldwide to help autistic children learn to make eye contact and read facial expressions using smart devices.