Good 360
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES FOR THE COMMON GOOD
NEWS  |  Communities

Virtual Reality Could Help Combat Social Isolation in Ageing Population


Tuesday, 11th July 2017 at 8:46 am
Rachel McFadden, Journalist
A new research project is investigating ways virtual reality could help combat social isolation in Australia’s ageing population.


Tuesday, 11th July 2017
at 8:46 am
Rachel McFadden, Journalist


0 Comments


FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

 Print
Virtual Reality Could Help Combat Social Isolation in Ageing Population
Tuesday, 11th July 2017 at 8:46 am

A new research project is investigating ways virtual reality could help combat social isolation in Australia’s ageing population.

The three year research project, led by researchers from Melbourne University’s Microsoft Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces, explores how technology can enhance social connection and belonging in the ageing population.

Melbourne University research fellow Dr Steven Baker said social isolation in older Australians was increasing due to families being dispersed geographically and issues in mobility for ageing Australians.

Baker said innovation and emerging technologies could help address some of these issues.

“We are primarily interested in creating opportunities for creating meaningful social interactions in a virtual world,” Baker said.

He said creating virtual realities could help older Australians with mobility issues connect with the wider community.

“The idea to explore virtual reality really sprung from previous studies into the use of touchscreen technologies to enhance social connection,” he said.

“But one of the barriers we find time and time again is a reluctance to use social networking sites due to concerns over privacy.”

Baker said the current study, which has 23 participants over the age of 70 called “Technology Explorers”, protected the identity of participants and enabled them to create their own virtual reality avatars.

He said the team had just completed the first stage of the project where participants made their own avatars and participated in the virtual realities across Melbourne University campuses.

“The first stage of the project had participants sitting in different parts of the university and they were all able to interact and have conversations with each other in that virtual environment as the avatars,” he said.

Baker said the next stage of the project was to explore with participants what types of virtual reality environments they could build.

“Our project is about giving people agency and allowing them to move around and make decisions and interact in a virtual world,” he said.

“So we would be looking at exploring what kind of social environments we could build, whether that be playing a game of cards or a book club for example.”

Baker said after a workshop exploring different possibilities, the team had decided to build a virtual reality card game and a “highway of life”.

“In the highway of life, participants will be able to go back in time to explore different time periods and see stories from that time and be able to contribute their own artifacts,” Baker said.

“They will be able to go back with friends and talk about where they were when these big events happened.”

He said the final stage will be testing the virtual reality worlds with the project due to conclude in June 2019.

The project was co-funded by the Australian Research Council and the Microsoft Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces, and the team is working in collaboration with the National Aging Research Initiative and the John Richards Initiative at Latrobe University.


Rachel McFadden  |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews

Rachel is a journalist specialising in the social sector.

Guide to Giving

FEATURED SUPPLIERS


HLB Mann Judd is a specialist Accounting and Advisory firm t...

HLB Mann Judd

Yes we’re lawyers, but we do a lot more....

Moores

...


Helping the helpers fund their mission…...

FrontStream Pty Ltd (FrontStream AsiaPacific)

More Suppliers


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Finding the Right Software for Your Not For Profit

Contributor

Tuesday, 26th September 2017 at 8:36 am

Technology as a Force For Good

Wendy Williams

Wednesday, 13th September 2017 at 3:40 pm

Disability Employment Sector Must Harness Platform Innovation

Wendy Williams

Friday, 8th September 2017 at 4:00 pm

NFPs Set to Benefit From $1M of Free Tech Expertise

Wendy Williams

Monday, 21st August 2017 at 3:40 pm

POPULAR

National Sporting Code and Betting Company Seek Charity Partnership

Luke Michael

Thursday, 5th October 2017 at 9:02 am

A ‘Flash Mob’ Farewell for McGregor Lowndes

Lina Caneva

Monday, 9th October 2017 at 5:08 pm

Trio of Organisations Lose Charity Status Following Investigation

Wendy Williams

Friday, 6th October 2017 at 9:19 am

Churchill Fellowship Explores Giving to Women

Wendy Williams

Tuesday, 10th October 2017 at 8:20 am

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Good 360
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

The social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!