Samsung technology can help people to overcome deep-seated fears like being afraid of public speaking or venturing to great heights. That is the result of the #BeFearless program run by Samsung Gulf Electronics Co., Ltd., as part of its Launching People campaign. Selected participants from Germany, Austria, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates took part in virtual reality training sessions using Samsung Gear VR, to see whether a virtual but immersive exposure to challenging situations would help them master these tasks in real life.
At the end of the training, all 27 participants were ready to achieve their full potential, having overcome their fear of heights or public speaking. Some of the participants then celebrated their achievement with real life challenges in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, in which they tackled these fears head-on – either by speaking in front of a large crowd at the city’s Courtyard Playhouse theatre, or by taking the Zip line challenge at Dubai Mall.
The training sessions were held over four weeks, some run with professional help, others based on self-training at home. Interest in the #BeFearless program was overwhelming, with nearly 7,500 people applying for the training across markets. In the end, 27 people got the chance to face their fears in a safe virtual environment using Samsung Gear VR.
“We have been overwhelmed by the fantastic response we’ve had from young people to the #BeFearless program. It has been an incredibly moving experience to see these individuals face what scares them the most and persevere, to go beyond what they believed they were capable of,” said Marco Vocale, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung Gulf Electronics. “I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to #BeFearless, and look forward to see their next journey.”
Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
Being afraid of speaking in front of small or large groups of people can have a crippling effect on the social life and professional success of many individuals. The Samsung #BeFearless program introduced participants to three different scenarios at four levels of difficulty – starting with speaking in a small setting like a school debate, followed by a job interview or team meeting, and culminating in speaking to large crowds in a virtual environment.
To advance to the next level, participants had to master the situation; “pass” or “fail” were based on several scientific and medically proven criteria such as changes in their heart rate (which was measured with the help of a Samsung Gear S smartwatch), the quality of their eye contact, for how long they spoke and the self-assessment of their anxiety levels.
Overcoming the Fear of Heights
Participants afraid of heights used Samsung Gear VR to push the limits of their comfort zone and overcome their fears. The program allows participants to experience four different locations in safe virtual environment, with 3 levels of difficulty: travelling up a transparent elevator, cliff driving, heli-skiing, and a skywalk around a skyscraper.
Once again, self-assessment and the monitoring of the heart-rate and eye levels (looking down) were key measurements of success.
The success of the #BeFearless program is backed up by the latest research from doctors at the Yonsei University Gangnam Severance Hospital in South Korea, who tested 82 people to see whether VR training programs could help them overcome their fears. The team achieved a success rate of nearly 90 per cent in helping people reduce their anxiety of public speaking and heights.
For people afraid of heights, just two weeks of VR training helped 87.5 per cent of the group to reduce their anxiety levels by nearly a quarter (23.6 per cent); among those worried about public speaking, an even larger number – 88.1 per cent – managed to reduce their fear of public social interaction, reducing their anxiety levels by nearly one fifth (18.7 per cent).
Salminaz is a 29-year-old fashion designer and entrepreneur who lives in Dubai. Since her school days she has been afraid of speaking in public to people she does not know. She had to rely on her younger sister to act as a spokesperson for her business – until the #BeFearless training program helped her to shake off her fears.
Muhammad Ummer is 20-years-old and has lived all his life in Dubai. He loves planes and always wanted to be a pilot, but because of his fear of heights he opted for a career as an aerospace engineer instead. Thanks to the #BeFearless training he is now confident to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot after all.