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Special Project

Special Project

Headspace XR

Entered in Gaming, Mental Health


Headspace partnered with Meta and Nexus Studios to create a first-of-its-kind extended reality product that makes mental health more accessible and introduces new ways to practise mindfulness techniques using virtual and mixed reality. In a world facing a mental health crisis, especially among young people, we saw a powerful opportunity to provide new audiences with innovative ways to practise a large range of mindfulness techniques designed to be engaging and completely accessible for beginners and experienced practitioners. This approach helps players build lifelong habits they can bring back to the real world. 

For people struggling with their mental health, the idea of sitting still in silence, eyes closed can feel daunting. So we set out to create a space where users felt it both fun and beneficial to spend time in. Studies show that playing has been shown to reduce stress, increase focus and creativity, improve problem solving and overall well-being. Quest features like multiplayer, hand tracking, and full immersion help create new ways to experience mindfulness, reaching audiences where they are, with a world designed and personalized to suit their mood. Players are immersed in an open-world playground designed to meet their needs - with 13 guided wellness experiences tailored to the user’s mood so they get what they need when they need it. There are also unlimited opportunities for mindful play, both solo and multiplayer with friends in every corner of this beautiful world. 










Headspace leverages its position as the provider of the world's most accessible, comprehensive mental health platform. By combining this expertise with the best of the Meta Quest platform – its social, immersive, and playful qualities – we are introducing Gen Z to a new and engaging path to wellbeing.

Three guiding principles dictated all design choices: 

Innovation permeates the Headspace XR experience - from designing accessible and engaging experiences for beginners and experienced practitioners that hold focus to encouraging deliberate movement and intentional breathing. The first-of-its-kind XR product harnesses hand tracking and mixed reality prompts to integrate mindfulness into daily life. Gamified activities within the open-world environment promote habit formation. Scientific consultation ensures our "hero experience" utilises movement for focus and energy through play.

This global game allows solo or invite-only multiplayer sessions for up to eight friends, fostering a strong and safe community. The avatars are gender-neutral and carefully abstract allowing for customisation through mindfulness activities. Recognising the unique identities within our player community, the design fosters inclusivity and self-expression.

Thinking about the needs of the user starts with the avatars. This audience is under a lot of social pressure, often feeling judged for their appearances. In recognising the diverse identities within our player community, we developed gender-neutral avatars. This fosters inclusivity and a welcoming space for gender non-conforming individuals, while still encouraging self expression by allowing for customisation of the avatars. Taking part in mindfulness experiences allows you to unlock a palette of colours and patterns in the form of Flow Burst, free-play objects that guide your breath and allow you to customise your avatar and the world, too. The particle energy running through the avatars makes them the most dynamic on the Quest platform.

We invented a new way to travel, using hand tracking, called the Slingshot Locomotion. You pinch and pull back to slingshot forward and move through the world. An innovative mental model with a simple gesture. In our hero experience, Power Up, the kinaesthetic properties gently guide players to perform movements with control, focus and mindful calmness by mirroring their motion with an elastic response. The music dynamically reinforces the sense of progression, as everything they do affects both the notes and soundscape. This makes the feeling of immersion fast and powerful.

From the layout of the meshes to the shading of every plant and piece of concrete, many factors had to be considered to make this render effectively. Every choice serves a wellness purpose including the reactive and evolving spatialised soundscape. The feeling of immersion in this positive place is fast and powerful. Achieving this level of fidelity and vibrancy in a vast open world setting for headset, working with technology not yet publicly available required groundbreaking innovation and is a true first for the industry. An 18-month development cycle ensured quality and user experience. 








Just launched in March 2024, Headspace XR has had a huge global impact and response from the public. Securing global coverage in some of the most wide-reaching technology and lifestyle publications including The Verge, TechRadar, Popsugar and The Mirror, garnering more than 171 million media impressions and counting. Over 500 visitors to SXSW 2024 demoed the experience, while large festival audiences flocked to the talks that covered the project. Users from the demos and beyond reported a noticeable decrease in daily stress, grateful to have a place where they can share meaningful experiences with friends, feel grounded, reset and more relaxed than ever before. 


“It’s going to help a lot of people”- User Review

“Gaming as a gateway to mindfulness” - Tech Crunch

“The best I can describe it is if Beat Saber and Tai Chi had a baby” - The Verge


Headspace is in the middle of a clinical research study with Virginia Tech that is evaluating the effectiveness of Headspace XR for social connection, stress reduction, and the potential of VR for delivering mindfulness benefits.



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