Trippy visuals are one thing. Inducing ego death is another.
Once most closely associated with '60s counterculture, hallucinogenic substances such as LSD and magic mushrooms are starting to make their way into mainstream science. Research centers are opening up across the globe, and seemingly countless studies have cropped up espousing the potential benefits of taking a psychedelic trip.
Now, New Atlas has published a fascinating story about a new frontier of psychedelic research: the technologists attempting to recreate "trips" in virtual reality.
Just Add Drugs
The New Atlas story details several VR experiences designed to induce the sensations of a psychedelic trip, including French filmmaker Jan Kounen's "Ayahuasca (Kosmik Journey)," artist Sander Bos' "Visionarium," and University of Sussex researchers' "Hallucination Machine."
While these works do deliver some decidedly trippy visuals, however, they fall short of replicating other aspects of a psychedelic experience.
"For more radical experiences such as ego-dissolutions or the sense of unity, we still don’t have any clues how to simulate them with VR for the moment," Keisuke Suzuki, one of the Hallucination Machine researchers, told New Atlas.
Still, Suzuki is hopeful that could change in the future.
"To fully simulate altered states of consciousness, we might need to combine VR technologies with real-time neuronal/physiological feedback techniques (e.g. brain-machine interfaces)," he told New Atlas. "But it will still take some time and effort to reach the level of what pharmacological substances can do."
READ MORE: Tripping on virtual reality: The artists trying to replicate psychedelic experiences in VR [New Atlas]
More on LSD: LSD Is Helping People End Their Alcohol Dependence