Immersive technology has an abundance of uses. That said while there are many we know, there is also many that we do not and a great number are still being quantified or refined. Every day is a learning process in a technology that is changing all the time. While we often cover virtual reality (VR) news that tends to relate to entertainment, such as videogames often the more interesting topics of discussion are how VR or augmented reality (AR) are being utilised to help change the way people look at their lives.
This could be changes to how we work, how we learn or how we live from day to day. There’s always something going on to improve the scientific, health, design or education industries. Today’s update relates to the healthcare industry and a VR related tool that could help sufferers with Alzheimer’s combat the memory loss that comes with the disease.
Developer and Northwestern University medical student Taegh Sokhey has announced Swann VR for the Chicago Health Tech Summit. Swann VR, which utilises the Oculus Rift, encourages neuroplasticity and works to improve spatial memory by providing patients with a map to memorize. Taking advantage of variable difficulty settings, users can proceed to find objects within the environment. In its current form Swann VR allows therapists or caregivers the ability to switch between five environments.
“Patients now have an effective tool that they can bring into their homes and use alongside other therapies.” Says Sokhey, “This minimizes the need for transport and helps reduce the workload of primary caregivers.”
“Virtual reality is without a doubt the next major frontier in rehabilitation. Swann is a remarkable look into the future,” Commented Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurologist who worked with the Veterans Administration.
We have of course, seen similar items connected with the disease before down the years. Alzheimer’s Research UK and Glitchers developed an app called Sea Hero Quest, that has been used to help further dementia research. In 2015 a study by led by Lukas Kunz of the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn set volunteers aged 18 to 30 the task of navigating a virtual maze to test the function of certain brain cells that could be used to predict Alzheimer’s.