A free Android-exclusive app has been created to recreate the world of someone living with dementia.
Trying to put yourself into the shoes of someone with dementia isn’t easy at the best of times, and for many who have little knowledge or understanding of the condition, they may assume it’s simply forgetting things, when it is often so much more than this.
Now a new app, which uses virtual reality, is aiming to reveal to people some of the challenges and issues you may face if you have dementia.
Developed by Alzheimer’s Research UK and virtual reality specialists VISYON, A Walk Through Dementia aims to help you experience the different challenges of dementia in a completely immersive environment.
The app sees you trying to navigate everyday environments such as the supermarket or the home and given tasks to do, such as finding items or making a cup of tea.
They want people to experience other issues that dementia can cause, including problems with spatial awareness and visual difficulties.
The app uses 360° cameras so it really feels like you’re in the middle of things. You can also purchase a special cardboard viewer which helps to block out any external distractions.
If you don’t have an Android phone, you can still experience the app by watching the video on YouTube.
The video features a voiceover from Olivier Award-winning actress Dame Harriet Walter, who lost both her parents to dementia, and an introduction from news broadcaster Jon Snow, whose mother died with Alzheimer’s disease.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
‘Dementia is commonly misunderstood, so A Walk Through Dementia is designed to offer the public a clearer picture of the challenges that people living with the condition face in everyday life.
‘The app also gives a poignant insight into the emotional impact of symptoms, an element that people with dementia told us was important to achieve. Although each person with dementia experiences the condition differently, and it would be hard to recreate the full range of complex symptoms, harnessing new technology like virtual reality helps us engage people with the impact of dementia on a new level.’
News broadcaster Jon Snow said:
‘Having lost my mother to Alzheimer’s, and witnessed her struggle with the symptoms of dementia, it’s clear that the effects are far more complex and far-reaching than memory loss alone.
‘A Walk Through Dementia gives an insight into how simple tasks we take -for granted can become daily trials for people with the condition – there’s something about the everyday nature of the story the project tells that make it all the more affecting.
‘Technology like VR can really transport someone to a different place, time or even give them a sense of what it’s like to live as someone else. I hope A Walk Through Dementia will help create some empathy for people living with the condition.’
The app was first launched on 2 June in St Pancras International Station and will be showcased at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival from today (7 June) until 12 June.
The app is available to download from the Google Play store. You can view a video about the app below.