Students are Experiencing Dementia Through Immersive Simulations
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic has opened up Australia’s first dementia learning center to educate people about the effects of dementia through virtual-reality simulations, according to Australian Ageing Agenda.
The simulation’s primary goal is allow students to envision the cognitive and perceptual difficulties that dementia sufferers deal with in their daily life routines. For example, one of the first scenarios for the simulation focuses on the bathroom experiences, which can be one of the most difficult and dangerous areas for someone with dementia.
Norman Wang, founder of Opaque MultiMedia, is developing this technology and believes:
“Normally people can understand dementia at an intellectual level. We are using immersive virtual reality so people can understand it at a visceral level,”
Players will be able to use their hands for Kinect-like gesture control and a touchscreen to move around and interact with each environment, while seeing all of their movements replicated on the 10 x 2 meter projection screen in front of them.
All of the player’s movement simulation is based off research from age care centers from Monash University and Opaque MultiMedia on the effects of aging and the different steps of dementia.
For each scenario, the game instructor will have the ability to inject dementia-simulating effects into the game-environment, like blurring of fine detail, replicating poor motor skills , and altering the intensity of light and sound. Because the large screen occupies so much space in the player’s peripheral vision, the game is able to achieve a very immersive experience.
Instructors will also be able to mix and match various states in each scenario to mix it up and each playthrough will vary according to the user’s actions in each level.
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is hoping their new dementia learning center will allow students to think differently in their approach to care and is developing educational programs around this tool in the near future. The new facility also showcases dementia friendly design and is calling all establishments to become more dementia-friendly.
Images by Australian Ageing Agenda