In the modern information society, networks are getting faster, costs are getting lower, and displays are getting clearer.
Today, just about anyone can easily use precise, dynamic, image distribution systems in their everyday life. Now, the
question is how to give the benefits of network systems to the local community, as well as to each individual.This study
was designed to use communication with realistic sensations to examine the effectiveness of remote individual
counseling intervention in reducing depression, anxiety and stress in child-rearing mothers. Three child-rearing mothers
residing in the city of Osaka each received one session of remote counseling intervention. The results showed an
alleviation of stress related to child-rearing, i.e., the reduction in state anxiety, depression and subjective stress related to
child-rearing. Moreover, an experimental demonstration employed a HyperMirror system capable of presenting visual
and auditory images similar to reality, in order to provide the counselees with realistic sensations. While the voice
communication environment was poor, the remote counseling allowed for the communication of sensory information,
i.e., <i>skinship</i> that communicated information related to assurance/peace of mind, and auditory information, i.e., a
whispering voices in which signals of affection were transmitted; the realistic sensation contributed to a reduction in
stress levels. The positive effects of the intervention were confirmed through a pre and post intervention study. The
results suggested the need to conduct future studies to confirm the mid- and long-term improvements caused by the
intervention, as well as the need to improve the voice transmission environment.
"Tele-presence" communication using JGNII - an exclusive optical-fiber network system - was applied to social-skills
training in the form of child-rearing support. This application focuses on internet counseling and social training skills
that require interactive verbal and none-verbal communications. The motivation for this application is supporting local
communities by constructing tele-presence education and entertainment systems using recently available, inexpensive IP
networks. This latest application of tele-presence communication uses mirror-interface system which provides to users in
remote locations a shared quasi-space where they can see themselves as if they were in the same room by overlapping
video images from remote locations.
Our research showed that a high degree of life-stress has a negative mental health effect that may interrupt regular exercise. We used an internet based, remotely conducted, face to face, preventive counseling program using video monitors to reduce the source of life-stresses that interrupts regular exercise and evaluated the preventative effects of the program in elderly people. NTSC Video signals were converted to the IP protocol and facial images were transmitted to a PC display using the exclusive optical network lines of JGN2. Participants were 22 elderly people in Hokkaido, Japan, who regularly played table tennis. A survey was conducted before the intervention in August 2003. IT remote counseling was conducted on two occasions for one hour on each occasion. A post intervention survey was conducted in February 2004 and a follow-up survey was conducted in March 2005. Network quality was satisfactory with little data loss and high display quality. Results indicated that self-esteem increased significantly, trait anxiety decreased significantly, cognition of emotional support by people other than family members had a tendency to increase, and source of stress had a tendency to decrease after the intervention. Follow-up results indicated that cognition of emotional support by family increased significantly, and interpersonal dependency decreased significantly compared to before the intervention. These results suggest that face to face IT remote counseling using video monitors is useful to keep elderly people from feeling anxious and to make them confident to continue exercising regularly. Moreover, it has a stress management effect.