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Virtual Trip – development of an application for virtual reality excursions of elderly people in need of care people for therapeutic purposes

The Academy for Research on Aging at the Haus der Barmherzigkeit is currently working on the FFG-funded research project “Virtual Trip” to develop an application for virtual trips (to nature, museum visits, shopping streets, …) for older people with reduced mobility to promote social participation and use VR glasses as a motivation for therapies and social interaction.
For older people and those in need of care, leaving the building is often a major challenge, and a visit to a museum or a trip to the mountains is often impossible. Virtual reality is a computer technology that enables an immersive sensation of physical presence in three-dimensional environments. With the help of VR glasses, realistic or artificially created environments and 360-degree images can be visited virtually without leaving the room.
The use of this technology is particularly interesting for people who live in long-term care facilities such as the Haus der Barmherzigkeit long-term care facilities, as it enables residents to visit places that are beyond their reach. Even for older people in need of care, virtual exploration of an exhibition is an opportunity to “get out” again and experience something new. However, virtual tours that are already available are not necessarily “barrier-free” for older people, because they do not have the same technology biography as today’s youngsters. Building on outcomes of the completed problem analysis and brainstorming phase, the goal of this project is to design a virtual reality application suitable for senior citizens for therapeutic settings.
With the development of this application, this project not only creates a change from everyday life in the nursing home or the homes of independently living seniors, but through the unique combination of the VR experience with the didactic preparation of the virtual excursions, the cognitive skills of the users being are promoted.

Duration: October 2018- March 2020
Funds: FFG Impact Innovation