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Baycrest VR-SIM Carers Roadshow: Transforming Elderly Care Through Virtual Reality

Updated: May 7

Up until now, our roadshows have relied on the preinstalled tutorial within the Oculus headset. However, we're thrilled to announce a significant step forward with the development of our own VR technology, courtesy of our VR Technology Developers for the VR-SIM Carers team. Our new demo introduces users to a brief tutorial outlining the initiative and the study's purpose. Following this introduction, users find themselves in a virtual room where they interact with a loved one with dementia, in this case, their mother. Through a series of tasks, such as fetching the newspaper or flipping through a photo album, users engage in meaningful conversations with their virtual relatives.

Our destination for this immersive experience is Baycrest Health Sciences, situated in the North York district of Toronto, Ontario. It serves as a leading research and teaching hospital specializing in elderly care. Upon arrival, we swiftly set up our dual booths, each serving distinct purposes. One booth was dedicated to informative materials and consent forms, while the other served as a multimedia hub, showcasing our VR SIM CARERS videos on tablets. Additionally, it housed an array of brochures, materials, and two Oculus headsets for participants to experience our virtual reality content firsthand. This strategic arrangement allowed participants to familiarize themselves with our roadshow at the first booth before proceeding to try the headsets at the second. The deliberate placement of our booths proved highly effective in attracting foot traffic, resulting in a continuous influx of visitors. This brought both excitement and a sense of challenge, as we aimed to accommodate as many participants as possible within our allotted time frame, which stretched from 10:30 am to 2 pm.

Initially, we intended to accommodate two participants simultaneously. However, encountering challenges with our casting system led us to adjust our approach, resulting in one participant being engaged at a time. Unlike the tutorial, our demo offers a significantly more comprehensive experience, providing a multitude of activities. Consequently, we found that running one participant at a time proved more advantageous. This approach facilitated clearer guidance, allowing us to direct participants precisely on where to go and what actions to take within the virtual environment. We continue to observe participants encountering challenges with the controllers, particularly in remembering which buttons to press and where to position their fingers when idle. These observations align with the data we gathered during previous roadshows. Interestingly, despite these controller-related difficulties, participants consistently expressed a deep sense of immersion in the VR environment and described the experience as both exciting and engaging.

We garnered considerable interest from diverse groups, encompassing caregivers, healthcare professionals, and individuals curious about our envisioned final product. This engagement proved highly enriching, yielding a wealth of valuable data and insights from those who visited our booth. We are immensely grateful for the numerous individuals who expressed interest in our research, contributing to a profoundly rewarding experience. With great enthusiasm, we look forward to the next step of our roadshow journey!

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I would like to see the   new demo "brief tutorial outlining the initiative and the study's purpose" or a link to it, or a transcript, made easily available on this project website. This might attract prospective Caregiver participants. With regards,

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