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Say ‘om’: Now you can meditate wearing Gear VR

If escaping into virtual reality usually means shooting zombies, chasing aliens, and generally gaming to your heart’s content, then a little relaxation may be in order once you’re done. Now there’s no need to take your headset off at all, thanks to the release of Guided Meditation VR, a new app for the Gear VR that takes you through a series of meditations to help relax your body and focus the mind.

It’s a free download through the Oculus Store on the Gear VR, but beware, at nearly 2GB it’s a very large file so make sure there’e plenty of free space available. Despite its size, the app quickly downloaded on our Galaxy S7 Edge, ready to try out. There are three different relaxation scenarios available at the moment, in four different VR locations.

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You have the choice of meditations to promote relaxation, a zen space, or to help release anxiety, each with its own voiceover. The sessions last a varying amount of time, ranging from around five minutes to more than 15 minutes. More mediations and additional environments will be added in the future, but for now there are 16 different options in total.

Interestingly, the program makes use of the heart rate scanner on the back of your Galaxy smartphone. Before the meditation begins your heart rate is taken — so remember to leave the Gear VR’s cover off — and again when the session ends. The idea is to measure the effectiveness of the meditation. It’s a great idea, but in our quick test it didn’t quite work out, as our heart rate increased by five beats-per-minute, rather than slowing down. This may be more to do with the sensor than the app’s effectiveness, because it was enjoyable, and the VR locations are beautifully rendered.

It’s great to see a well-made, accessible, and effective app that takes VR beyond gaming, and anyone with a Gear VR should track Guided Meditation VR down in the Oculus Store now. HTC Vive and Oculus Rift owners should look out for their own version of the app coming soon.