EDIE: A VR app that shows the reality of dementia

Alex Kidman 23 September 2016

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A new VR app eschews the usual entertainment focus in favour of educating around the challenges of dementia.

An awful lot of the focus around virtual reality has to date revolved around its entertainment aspects, whether you’re using it to watch movies on a plane, or simply to play fast action games, with multiple technology providers coming to market this year with competing visions.

VR doesn’t all have to be about disposable entertainment, however. This week, Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria has launched a free application for Google Cardboard and iOS called EDIE. It’s designed to put users in the shoes of an elderly person (Edie of the title, although it’s also an acronym for Educational Dementia Immersive Experience) living with dementia. EDIE works directly with Google Cardboard. Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria is selling headsets through its web site if you don’t have one.

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The core idea behind EDIE is that it’s complementary to a lot of the educational work that Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria does with other immersive VR experiences, placing the user in the shoes of someone living with a dementia diagnosis.

According to Maree McCabe, Acting National CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, "EDIE provides the user with a 360-degree immersive experience that enables them to see first-hand the challenges faced by people with dementia".

"With EDIE we can take the technology to the carer, both personal and professional, anywhere in the world" Ms McCabe said in a statement. The app itself was developed with the Deakin Software and Technology Innovation Laboratory.  lzheimer’s Australia will use EDIE in educational sessions, but it’s free for anyone to download for either iOS or Android platforms to start understanding the challenges that come with a diagnosis of dementia whether that’s a personal diagnosis or the possibility of supporting someone with such a diagnosis.

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