Question: Can VR connect users with nature for improved mental health ? If it can, how can it be effectively designed?

I was watching a series on Netflix which discussed various aspects of quantum theory. The program spoke about how birds are attracted to quantum waves and to do this they use their eyes connected to a part of their brain, for navigation. 

This led me on to thinking about VR and my interest in navigating natural space in the Pennines and how patients might connect with nature to improve mental health, particularly if VR could support this and if it could, how it may be designed. 

Campillo De Adetro, Murcia Spain. 

Ice drop encasing flora colour

Planning VR environment design tor user directed cinematography

Navigating Grindbrook Dale, Edale. 
Walking blindfolded in the Pennines 
Constructing a simple white box model environment in Unity using probuilder primitive objects. 

Using light to direct user attention
Navigating space following environmental sound.
Lines of Desire ‘paved’ 
Icicles revealing wind direction 
Google Earth satellite image

 When designing virtual space, we think about how the player might navigate space, read signs and symbols, notice and test an environments affordances and constraints, follow sound and lighting while constructing internal mental models. I hadn’t thought bout what might help a players mental health previously although I conducted a number of short experiments when engaging with how human interact in immersive natural and built environments.  

Aviation navigation (over Los Angeles) 

Floral Scent 

I think my brain imploded at this point but it did make me think about the part a relationship between sight and smell. Exploring the many senses deployed in navigating natural space and using these to construct virtual immersive spaces might reveal further as[eats of how nature and healthy mental health are connected.