Cardboard VR app for smartphones enables reality of dementia through EDIE’s eyes

Thursday 22 September 2016

A new virtual reality smartphone app, released today by Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, will enable people to see the world through the eyes of a person living with dementia.

The app, EDIE, (Educational Dementia Immersive Experience, pronounced Eddie), is used exclusively with Google Cardboard and aims to build empathy in the user for people living with dementia.

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

EDIE is the next generation in the use of serious games technology developed by Dementia Australia Vic that started with the launch of the world-first, Virtual Dementia Experience™ training workshops in 2013. The app is a teaser for Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s new ‘Enabling EDIE’ workshops which will commence in 2017.

“The interest in virtual reality and the impact of the Virtual Dementia Experience™ cemented our commitment to adapt the learnings into a mobile, free app.

“With EDIE we can take the technology to the carer, both personal and professional, anywhere in the world,” Ms McCabe said.

Google Cardboard is an easily accessible and affordable VR format. The EDIE app explores a moment in time as EDIE, a person who has a diagnosis of dementia and faces the difficulties experienced undertaking the simple activities of daily life.

The app will be used in some family carer counselling sessions conducted by Alzheimer’s Australia Vic.

The ‘Enabling EDIE’ workshops will use virtual reality tools to deliver a comprehensive training program for health and aged care sector professionals to develop their dementia practice and ultimately improve the quality of life of people living with dementia in their care. Registrations for the workshops are open from today using vic.education@dementia.org.au.

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic worked with the Deakin Software and Technology Innovation Laboratory (DSTIL) to develop this technology. Deakin University researcher Professor Rajesh Vasa said the research team was honoured to have worked with Alzheimer’s Australia Vic to develop EDIE.

“It is really exciting to be able to use our expertise in interactive games and virtual reality technologies to support Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s work to increase education and understanding of dementia.

“This app will be really useful to carers of people living with dementia and we are delighted to have been involved in this very important project,” Professor Vasa said.

The app is now available free on iTunes and Google Play and our EDIE Google Cardboard headsets are available for purchase for just $15.00 at https://vic.fightdementia.org.au/edie or by calling the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

EDIE will be launched today by Gerard Mansour, Commissioner for Senior Victorians, at the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic Dementia Awareness Month Public Lecture at 9.30am at ZINC Federation Square, Melbourne.

EDIE was developed with funding from the IOOF Foundation and the Rosemary Norman Foundation.

-ENDS-

Explore some of the EDIE media coverage in print, radio and TV stories:

LISTEN - BBC World Service Click - starts at 7.50; and with Trevor Long on Your Tech Life - starts at 26.20.

READ - Fairfax Media - SMH, The Age, Brisbane Times, WA Today, The Border Mail - VR app lets you see through the eyes of a person with dementia and Tech Republic How virtual reality is transforming dementia care in Australia

and, WATCH - Nine Network's Today Extra,

Media contacts:

Christine Bolt 03 9816 5772 / 0400 004 553 / christine.bolt@dementia.org.au

Stephanie Puls 03 9816 5745 / 0427 757 434 / stephanie.puls@dementia.org.au

Notes to media:

Stories in the media about dementia may prompt concerns or cause distress for audiences and readers. When writing or talking about dementia, please encourage your audience/readers with the number for our National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500, a free call, telephone information and support service available across Australia.

What is appropriate language for talking about dementia and why do we need it?

The words used to talk about dementia can have a significant impact on how people with dementia are viewed and treated in our community.

In particular please avoid the use of the word sufferer or suffering – the preferred language is a person/people living with dementia.

Please read our Dementia Language Guidelines that have been developed by people living with dementia and carers.

About Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

In Victoria almost 97,000 people are living with dementia. This figure is projected to increase to 386,000 by 2050. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is the charity and peak body representing people, of all ages, with all forms of dementia in Victoria. We provide specialised dementia information, education and support services.

Call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit www.fightdementia.org.au/vic