Head of BIS sees Swanswell’s virtual therapies project in action

04 February 2013

Swanswell’s innovative virtual reality project that helps people recover from substance misuse has been showcased to the head of the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, demonstrated the computer-game based technology as part of Permanent Secretary Martin Donnelly’s visit to the University of Reading on Friday 01 February 2013.

Swanswell’s been working jointly with the University of Reading as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to develop the technology, which aims to identify triggers to alcohol and drug misuse so users can learn coping skills to use in real life.

The software gives clients access to a number of computer-generated

scenes using a virtual reality headset. Each scene allows the game’s user to make decisions, which lead to more events as the scene unfolds.

They can move between different scenes including a domestic scene with alcohol and drug-related cues, and a bar scene.

Mr Donnelly was shown the virtual therapies project as part of his wider visit to the University of Reading, and was given a demonstration by Swanswell’s Project Manager Liam North.

He said: ‘We’re delighted that Martin Donnelly came to see our joint virtual therapies project at the University of Reading.

His visit on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills shows us there is recognition of how simple and effective ground-breaking products such as this can be used in new ways to help more people overcome substance misuse.

He seemed suitably impressed with what he saw and commented on how it’s a simple way of reaching more people and engaging them in treatment.’

Chris Robinson, Swanswell’s Director of Services, said: ‘We’ve been overwhelmed with the interest we’ve had with our virtual therapies project so far.

We’re very excited about the future, especially as this software can be easily adapted to a variety of other scenarios linked to behaviour change.’ 

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