Using virtual goggles and creative camera angles, researchers have given people the illusion that their bodies were invisible. Cool.

The volunteers wore head-mounted displays that showed real-time video from cameras facing the floor from the participant’s head level. When the participant looked down, their bodies would appear to be gone. The researchers stroked different parts of the participant’s body with a paintbrush while simultaneously moving another paintbrush within the camera’s view in the corresponding area. Hence the participant was given the illusion that the brush was stroking their invisible body.

In another set of experiments, the “invisible” participants stood in front of an audience of “serious-looking strangers” (other researchers), which is typically understood as a stressful social situation.

Those that perceived themselves as invisible reported having lower stress levels and had slower heart rates than those who were visible, suggesting that feeling invisible can reduce anxiety during stressful scenarios.

Perhaps the illusion will be used in the future to treat social anxiety, the researchers suggest.