De resultaten van ons onderzoek naar Virtual Reality bij ouderen zijn bekend

Gesteund door het Leids Stimuleringsfonds heeft het Leiden VR Department (Leids Stimuleringsfonds | Ondernemend Leiden)  de afgelopen maanden onderzoek gedaan naar Virtual Reality en ouderen hierbij gesteund door studenten van de Leidse Hogeschool. 

Wilt U meer weten over wat VR voor ouderen kan betekenen neem dan contact met ons op. Wij helpen U graag.

Hieronder vindt u de resultaten van dit onderzoek in het Engels. 


Research summary – Phase 1

Several studies have found that technology can help the elderly live better lives by enhancing their physical and mental health, reducing loneliness, and increasing social connections. On the one hand, technologies are sought to aid older individuals with isolation, depression, and cognition issues; on the other hand, the more aging population is not seen as a tech-savvy demographic. Virtual reality has proven that it may be used to improve cognition and memory. Virtual reality has proven that it may be used to improve the cognition and memory of the elderly. However, just a few studies have explored virtual reality design principles to improve the social well-being of older individuals. The first phase of the research aims to fill in this gap and explore what needs to be taken into account when designing VR experiences for the elderly and is considered the first step towards the delivery more in-depth view on improving connectedness and usability of VR an intervention for elderly’s emotional and social well-being.

The study took an explorative, qualitative approach. Throughout the product development cycle, the research employed research through the design approach and specifically the human-centered design (or user-centered design; UCD) approach applying to empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test phases (Both & Baggereor, 2017).

The initial intent was to conduct the research as a co-design exercise with residents in long-term care communities; however, this was not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. Therefore, the local network (Zonnebloem, Incluzio, Ouderenberaad ZuidHolland Noord, LUMC) was used to explore elderly needs and expectations towards VR and how those could be fulfilled. The VR experiences were explored with elderly living at home alone and being assisted/accompanied by volunteers on different occasions or living alone with no additional assistance, and claiming to feel isolated and not connected enough with the external world.

Within the five UCD phases, several activities have been initiated: e.g., (1) exploration of existing solutions, (2) entry interview with elderly about their knowledge about VR and thoughts about their first interaction with the technology (n=16), followed by (3) design and testing activities.

(1) Existing solutions

Alcove: Alcove is a social experience for families that is only available on Oculus Go. This software allows seniors to meet up with their family members in a virtual area and speak as if they were in person. Seniors may enter a virtual world to share memories, play games, go on adventures, and sit back and watch TV if all family members have headsets.

Rendever: is a service committed to using virtual reality to improve the lives of the elderly. The firm works directly with senior living homes to supply the required hardware and training so that its residents may participate in the activities. In addition, Rendever focuses on reducing the impacts of loneliness by providing group sessions with all of the headsets being networked. Residents will be able to see everything simultaneously and talk about what they’re seeing as it unfolds, fostering a feeling of community and connection.

(2&3) A number of findings have also emerged from our investigations.

Below selected findings are highlighted:

Feelings, expectations, findings fueling design:

  • The participants expressed that they got nervous about trying the VR for the first time,
  • They felt lost a first about not knowing what to expect and if they would be able to operate the technology,
  • Most of the participants saw themselves as reserved towards VR,
  • The participants who were more confident about trying VR had a significantly higher perceived current physical well-being compared to those more skeptical,
  • The participants who were more confident about trying VR had had a higher perceived current emotional well-being compared to those more skeptical,
  • The vast majority described their first experience with VR as positive.
  • The preference of the elderly was to be seated during the VR experience. As the group that might have limitations in mobility, some also expressed their fear of falling and break a bone during the experience.
  • The elderly expressed having difficulty using the controllers. The fact that was mentioned multiple times was that when you pick something up in real life, you use different muscles than when you try to pick it up in virtual reality. It was difficult for them to recognize that they had to press two buttons to pick something up.
  • The group consistently expressed the need for a thorough and detailed explanation of what to expect from the experience and clear instructions on operating. Most were not interested in trying an intuitive approach to the experience and self-exploration.
  • Many participants express the expectations for VR to recreate the world as close to reality as possible, so it would be easier for them to understand the actions (e.g., turning the lights on with the real-like light switch or opening the door with a doorknob). If the activities are with buttons, it needs to be very clearly explained and visually acknowledgeable.
  • Over the duration of the experience, their preference was not to talk to people who were in virtual reality with them. Also, many hesitated to speak to those sharing telepresence with them.
  • Most participants have expressed the preference to see in virtual reality places and objects they recognize from their actual personal lives (e.g., familiar landmarks or personal objects like a cup or clothing). They explained that it would help them connect with the experience more.

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