A recent project I worked on was to create a virtual world whereby carers could put themselves into the shoes of an elderly person with frailty. The idea was to help the carer empathize with the person that they are caring for.
Gill using the headset for the first time
Questions I had…
Would this actually work?
Would we be able to actually create a scenario where the everyday problems that the elderly face could be portrayed?
Would the users be able to buy into the idea that they could use this sort of technology to help them with their everyday job?
The idea was quite simple
Create a virtual living space.
Give the user the simple task (make a cup of tea).
Add some aspects of frailty (limited walking, poor eyesight and hearing).
Finally add some distractions (the phone starts ringing or there’s someone at the door).
Living Area for FrailSIM
The majority of the users would be from a non technical, non gaming background, but would be expected to use a headset to enter into this virtual world to complete the given task. I had no idea how they would get on with the technology or if they would get anything out of the simulation.
Did it work?
Well, in summary yes!
The main response from the users was that it was a really frustrating experience… but that’s actually a good thing in this instance! It is frustrating not being able to see very well or walk very fast and desperately trying to answer the door before the postman disappears with your parcel.
The general feeling was that it gave the users a real view of how some of the people they care for everyday were struggling to complete simple everyday tasks that you or I take for granted.
Most users enjoyed the experience and loved the fact that it was a bit different to other forms of training that they have been on before.
There were one or two that couldn’t get on with the VR; unfortunately motion sickness is an issue for some users using the headsets, but this is becoming less of an issue as the technology improves.
So what’s next? Anything is possible in a virtual world!!