It can be impossible to imagine what life is like living with some tragic diseases, but VR is helping to change that.
Alzheimer’s Research UK, a charity working to combat one of the toughest illnesses facing mental health, has revealed a new VR app that demonstrates the effects of dementia, which 850,000 people in the UK alone suffer from. Available for free on Google Cardboard, A Walk Through Dementia is designed to give others a glimpse into the lives of those suffering from the illness. The charity has also created a short film discussing the thinking behind the app and showcasing the difficulties that dementia instils, which can be seen below.
The app itself uses a mix of both 360 degree video and fully virtual environments across a number of chapters that cover everyday activities such as shopping and making a cup of tea. In the latter scenario, for example, you take the perspective of a dementia sufferer minutes before her daughter visits. Preparing three teas, you watch as she struggles to remember where items are located and how much milk and sugar to put in each cup. Though best viewed in Cardboard, you can also see this in another YouTube video below.
There’s even an introduction from celebrated journalist and Channel 4 News host Jon Snow. The app was developed with support from UCL’s Dementia Research Centre, and is a carefully considered piece that helps you see the issue through the eyes of others for the first time. Based on reviews from the Android store, it certainly seems to be having the intended effect. Some users name it an “eye opener” while one goes as far as calling it “heartbreaking”.
With VR now a tool that charities such as this can utilise, hopefully others will catch on to how they can help raise awareness with the aid of this amazing technology.