Can a New VR App Really Replace Painkillers?

Whether it involves a peaceful lake, a secluded mountaintop or a little person in a cowboy outfit riding a unicycle, most people have a happy place in their mind to visit when things get tough.

That’s the thinking behind a new app created by a Swedish pharmacy that’s designed to let patients visit a pre-designed safe zone in virtual reality while undergoing painful procedures.

Called Happy Place, the VR app from Apotek Hjärtat lets patients spend time at a cartoon campsite alongside a lake with the either the sun or moon shining above depending on the hour.

Meant to be used with traditional painkillers, the app — which is compatible with VR headsets and viewers like Google Cardboard — also stands alone as a legit pain prevention alternative.

“There is evidence that simply spending time in nature has a therapeutic value, and the scientists are investigating if the same effect can be reproduced with virtual nature,” Apotek Hjärtat head pharmacist Annika Svedberg told Fast Company. “We wanted to create something that felt like a place, to create this effect we opted for day, night, and weather cycles.”

To be clear, we’re still getting doped up for surgery, but we definitely think this app has potential — or at least could be fun to play with after a couple beers.