Copyright: Australian Journal of Dementia Care (www.journalofdementiacare.com) Vol 6 No 1 February/March 2017. Reprinted with the permission of Hawker Publications Australia Pty Ltd.
After almost three years of development and testing, The Virtual Forest™, a screen-projected game for people living with dementia, is now available for purchase and use in aged care homes, hospitals and health care centres.
It can also be used as an interactive art installation in corporate, government and local government buildings, art galleries and other public spaces. It’s designed for one-on-one engagement, group interaction or as a shared, family experience.
Dementia Australia Vic developed The Virtual Forest™ with Melbourne’s Opaque Media Group.
They have used video game and sensor technology to create a sensory experience via a large interactive screen that presents a large park-like landscape with flowers, trees and a river with a bridge. The setting is designed to be calming and enjoyable.
The user is able to engage with the virtual environment simply by waving their arms or clapping their hands. With movements detected by Microsoft Kinect technology, a person can use easy, natural motions to control interactive elements in the scenery. They can change the seasons with a clap of the hands and animals can be made to appear and move around with a wave of the hands. No headsets or hand-control devices are needed.
Residents and staff of major sponsor Lifeview Residential Care were involved in testing and refining the product over the past two years. The thoughts, reactions and mood of residents provided valuable feedback during the project.
The Virtual Forest™ costs $3500, which includes the game software and up to 15 hours support annually via phone or email. Discounts apply for multiple purchases.