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New VR device to help dementia patients

New VR device to help dementia patients

Wireframe Immersive has played a vital role in creating Virtual Reality Empathy Platform (VR-EP), a new virtual reality device is set to help architects and designers create dementia-friendly buildings and spaces through understanding how dementia can affect a person’s vision.

The idea is the brainchild of David Burgher, director at Scottish Borders-based Aitken Turnbull Architects, who has developed the product in partnership with Glasgow CGI company Wireframe Immersive and experts at the Dementia Centre, HammondCare. The Dementia Centre is recognised as a world leader in dementia support, care and design. It provided the evidence-based research and academic rigour to this product. Wireframe Immersive has developed the virtual environment and will supply the software and hardware.

VR-EP comprises a laptop with high performance graphic and memory capability, Virtual Reality goggles, a games controller, camera and bespoke software programming.

VR-EP can be used in the design of new buildings such as care homes, hospitals or sheltered housing, and also has the potential to assess existing buildings and environments. Dementia-friendly design can significantly improve the quality of life for people living with the condition.

There are currently more than 800,000 people in the UK living with dementia, a figure that is expected to rise to 1.7 million by 2051. Dementia costs the UK economy £26.3 billion per year – more than cancer and heart disease combined. This application can help healthcare providers save expensive adaptive costs by designing buildings and spaces with the person living with dementia in mind.

People living with dementia can see things very differently, with objects often appearing dimmer and less colourful than they really are, which can be frightening and confusing. By using this device to see things through the eyes of a fictional person living with dementia, building or interior designers will be able to create homely and familiar environments that could reduce accidents, lessen anxiety and help those living with dementia live more independent lives.

The introduction of this unique VR-EP technology takes this insight to the another level - giving building designers first-hand experience of how dementia affects vision so that we can design spaces that are far better suited to people living with the condition.

As well as reducing anxiety, the improved design offers a better, safer and more independent quality of life. Dementia-friendly design doesn’t have to cost more. In fact, by using VR-EP, designers will get it right first time and therefore reduce costs. Initial research shows there is a strong demand for this product on an international scale and the VR-EP device will make a profound impact in improving the environment for those living with dementia.

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