The Lazarus experience helps people with alcoholism overcome their problem, by challenging their thought patterns. Through several levels of inebriation, the clients are challenged to make choices in contexts of, for instance, peer pressure. They then experience the outcome of their actions. After the experience is over, the user is invited to partake in a conversation with two other users and a counselor.
Lazarus is currently deployed in Leuven, Belgium. Using photogrammetry, a technique to scan objects and surroundings in 3D space, some well-known areas in the city of Leuven were digitally captured in 3D. The user is positioned on a virtual reality treadmill, giving them omnidirectional freedom of movement within the virtual space. Combining these techniques we allow the user to walk around in a virtual reality that closely resembles the actual reality. The target audience largely consists of students, therefore some areas were chosen where students typically go out to drink and hangout.
Several audio-visual techniques were applied to mimic a rather drunk experience. We filter and process sound similar to how alcohol influences our hearing, and we play tricks on the brain and vestibular organ to really give the player some problems balancing. These effects are only temporary, if not momentarily. Nevertheless, the VR-treadmill is physically equipped with precautions to prevent the user from falling over.