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DemVR Hackathon Aims to Create VR Experiences for People With Dementia

The hackathon takes place next month in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Virtual reality (VR) has been used on a number of occasions for dementia purposes, whether that’s to help spread awareness or help teach medical students what life is like with dementia. Next month the University of Newcastle will be hosting a unique hackathon called DemVR, for the sole purpose of designing VR experiences for people living with the disease.

Organised by Open Lab at Newcastle University and held in the city’s Great North Museum, everyone is encouraged to apply – no prior VR knowledge is needed – as there will be experts in both VR and dementia on hand to give advice. Open Lab is looking for new and innovative ideas to help those living with dementia, whether it’s through a VR hardware solution or an interactive VR experience.

PhD student and founder of DemVR, James Hodge has been researching the potential of using VR in dementia cases, saying: “Our previous design work looked at not being burdened by the past or focus on perceived cognitive deficits, but where the person with dementia is enabled to drive the experience in all its richness.

“Dementia affects people differently, and through our research we’ve found it’s important to create personalised experiences to match that.”

LookBack by Virtue (VRTU)

Hodge’s research has led him to create tailored VR environments, such as a personalised Shania Twain concert for a couple living with dementia, as well as looking at how meaningful media experiences can be captured via 360-degree video for families living with dementia.

When it comes to the VR experts on hand, VRTGO Labs has been confirmed: “We are delighted to be working with the team at Open Lab and supporting DemVR – it’s really important for us to ensure we are collaborating with universities to help further build relationships between education and industry,” said Katy Reilly, VRTGO Labs Network Manager.

“The North East immersive tech sector stems from the regions’ proud games industry roots; innovation and growth in XR has developed considerably over the years with the support of organisations such as VRTGO Labs, Digital Catapult and PROTO, as well as XRTGO conference. XR in healthcare has huge potential and we can’t wait to see lots of new ideas brought to the table during the DemVR 24 hour hackathon!”

The DemVR Hackathon will take place from Friday, 5th April to Saturday 6th, with judging being held on Sunday 7th. There’s a £1,000 GBP Grand Prize up for grabs and £500 for second place. Registration is open now and closes next Friday 22nd. For further details head on over to the official DemVR website. As more use cases for VR are found, VRFocus will keep you updated.

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