Understanding the ailments affecting patients is one of the most difficult tasks within the field, as workers often can only imagine the difficulty patients with a disease find with common tasks.

This could be easier in the near future, due to the development of a new kind of virtual reality. Created by Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria to be used within a new facility, the virtual dementia VR experience uses light, sound, colour and visual content to create a real sense of the disease for workers.

In the simulator, users find a doughnut shaped mood lighting ring, a 10 metre by 2 metre projection wall and an interactive touch screen. To allow users to manipulate the environment, advanced gesture-sensing technology has been built in – similar to the Microsoft Kinect.

Certain scenarios have been developed, including a bathroom situation in which users have to grasp different virtual objects.

The simulator was developed with Opaque MultiMedia, who designed the project and established the technological requirements.

Opaque say different scenarios can be developed as required, to alter the experience for trainees. Surfaces can change colour, objects swapped out and even the environment changed.

This isn’t the first time Opaque have worked with Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria, as a past project saw the company develop a virtual forest for dementia patients to explore, in order to provide relaxation. The forest application was designed to be deployed through simple computer installation in any number of required facilities.

Both companies attempted to raise the funding for the forest project using crowdfunding, but only a portion of the required funds were raised.

The VR dementia project, however, is already active, and can be used to train workers.

By understanding what patients with dementia experience on a daily basis, medical workers will be able to provide a high level of care.

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