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Theory of Mind in the Metaverse

Meta Quest 2

Theory of Mind in the Metaverse

Theory of Mind in the Metaverse

ASL Roma 6: testing new technology for fragile individuals

Meta’s “Headset Donation Programme” provides free rental of Meta Quest 2 visors to Italian schools and institutions. A new series of Meta Quest 2, all-in-one VR visors for immersive reality, has arrived at the Rome ASL 6 in Albano.

The Meta Quest 2 visors were assigned to AttivaMente Aps that will use them in a project implemented in collaboration with ASL Roma 6

AttivaMente is a social promotion association seated in Albano that exists legally since 2019, but whose members have been active locally since 2016. Projects concern the health of members and patients at the CSM mental health centre. The association’s request for Meta Quest 2 visors is explained by Maria Antonella Secchi: “We have family members, people with mental disorders and simple citizens collaborating with public institutions on collective project to safeguard the environment, art and nature, based on the principle that fragile people must be helped, listened to, and inserted in society for the common good. Our activities include three groups for mutual self-help, adoption and daily care or green areas in Albano Laziale. In particular, we work on keep some public areas decorous. We firmly believe that cleanliness will drive further décor and beauty. Moreover, we hold training programmes to fight the stigma of mental illness. In the future, we are planning to open a help desk. Ours is a permanent and complementary commitment to that of institutional socio-healthcare.”

As part of the project with the Albano Laziale ASL Roma 6, the donation of these Meta Quest 2 visors will allow us to further enrich and help our members: “We have positively accepted to learn more and understand the Metaverse.” explains Maria Antonella Secchi, “So, we accepted this donation and will turn them over to the ASL Roma 6 as part of a joint experimental project on individuals on the spectrum. The aim is to provide an adequate and stimulating experience to individuals undergoing rehabilitation. Following the experimental phase, by the end of 2023, the association’s members together with specialized operators will provide this technology to AttivaMente family members as part of Personalised Therapeutic-Rehabilitative Projects (PTRP). We would like to provide our fragile members with the tools and methods necessary to stimulate unexplored and unexploited abilities, aiming on resources. We would like to test a further awareness and a relaxed attitude to facing and solving concrete challenges in the Metaverse, that could improve the lives of those involved.”

The first experimental phase will be implemented by ASL Roma 6, as explained by Marco Sacconi, a professional educator at the Department of Mental Health, who works both with adults and adolescents with psychiatric pathologies. “The Mental Health Protection and Childhood Rehabilitation Service in Ariccia, following a recommendation by Doctor Patrizia Garzia, a childhood neuropsychiatrist, contacted the Fondazione Mondo Digitale in mid 2022; since September, an intense collaboration is underway. Eight adolescents on the spectrum and with behavioural issues were able to enjoy experiences at the Robotics Lab and the Fab Lab at the Rome Città Educativa, site of the FMD offices. The labs proved educational and stimulating. In particular, the participants enjoyed building small objects. During the second phase, always in collaboration with Dr. Garzia, we participated as operators in the Vagone FMD. From 01 to 100 in the Metaverse experience at Binario F, and together with the kids RomeCup 2023.

The latter gave us the ideas to work with Meta Quest 2 visors in an experimental phase together with the Attivamente Association. In particular, the ASL will use the visors with fragile children to test their social abilities in protected situations in augmented reality, in the context of a game. Participants will be able to implement and elaborate a “theory of mind.” They will try to understand how others react to reciprocal interaction to increase their empathy. As part of this initiative, we are also working with the Creativa start-up in Albano, to find the best material for these tests and for training participants to use Meta Quest visors.

We subsequently plan to involve the participants’ schools. In the second phase, the experimental phase with Attivamente will be extended to labs and self-help groups.

Eleonora Curatola and Riccardo Russo are collaborating on the experimental and networking activities on behalf of the Fondazione Mondo Digitale.

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