Provata Health, a digital health startup based in the United States, released an iOS app that harnesses virtual reality (VR) as a backdrop for guided meditation, stepping into the consumer mindfulness space.
For the full experience, the app requires a mobile VR headset through which it provides guided meditation within a 350-degree calming visual environment, like sitting on a bench or next to a waterfall. It also allows the user to connect his or her health-tracking wearables, such as the Apple Watch, to measure and quantify the effects of a meditation session on one’s resting heart rate, among else. In the same way, it is also possible to discern the impact of meditation on one’s quality and length of sleep.
Provata’s chief executive Alex Goldberg said the company hopes to “pioneer a new category of digital health: Virtual Reality Preventive Care,” along with conducting clinical tests of the app’s effectiveness. Since the meditation biofeedback is integrated into the app, it is possible to carry out a peer-reviewed study that would look at comparative heart rate trends and reported stress and depression scores among users, he added.
Meditations in the app can last two, five or ten minutes, so that users don’t end up spending too much time immersed into the alternative reality, which in itself can have negative physiological effects.
The app can be downloaded for free with limited content, but the subscription service of $3.99 per month or $35.99 a year provides more exotic landscapes for meditation.