Examples of Virtual and Augmented Reality Applications Involving Dementia

Posted in: About Dementia, EngD, Technology

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications are growing in popularity as hardware becomes more accessible. Most smartphones are now capable of running VR and AR applications, to varying degrees.

I was interested to find out what VR and AR applications have been developed that involve a link to dementia.  I found this article, which offers a short review of such applications, and a few other examples elsewhere too.

In this blog post I will share with you these examples of VR and AR applications involving dementia.

Understanding Dementia

There are a range of VR applications that are used to help carers and people unaffected by dementia understand what it is like to live with dementia.

One example is A Walk Through Dementia from Alzheimer's Research UK. Together with people living with dementia, they created a series of 360-degree videos demonstrating what people with dementia experience in everyday situations. These videos that can be viewed either simply as a video or by using a Google cardboard type of headset. Here is an example of someone trying to make tea for some visitors. You can click and drag after pressing play to look around the room.

Source: A Walk Through Dementia

Screening for Dementia

Another potential use of VR is as a screening tool. For example, in VStore from Vitae VR the person has to navigate a virtual supermarket to collect items on a list. Then, they must pay for these at a self-service checkout. Take a look at the demo video from their website below.

Source: The Product -- Vitae VR

Using VR is meant to be a more engaging and quicker way of testing for early signs of dementia. Pilot studies have shown that the results of healthy individuals using the VR experience are similar to traditional pen and paper tests. Now the technology must be trialled in a care setting to determine if this is still true for people with dementia.

Therapeutic Applications

Some augmented reality applications are used in care settings for therapeutic purposes. In these examples, the augmented space is meant to create a soothing and calming experience, as in the Virtual Forest from Dementia Australia. People can interact with the immersive environment, changing the seasons with a wave of a hand.

Assistive Technology

Although I have not written about all of the examples I have found, a lot of them have been VR applications for dementia. This may be because, up until now, VR worlds have been easier to create than augmenting the real world. Research into how AR could be used is now starting to take off.

Indeed, the potential of AR and VR as an assistive technology for people with dementia has been recognised before, shown in the examples of Kognit (AR) and the easyADL (VR) project. I will be able to draw on these projects to inform my own research project, which will start to explore the potential of AR for people living with dementia.

I hope this introduction to VR and AR applications involving dementia has been interesting. Please get in touch if you know of any other VR or AR applications involving dementia!

Posted in: About Dementia, EngD, Technology

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