Virtual Reality (also known as VR) is all the rage in many circles with older children and many adults, but what are the long-term effects? VR is still relatively new in its current iteration and largely consists of navigating an ice-walled lake or scouring a swamp for a hidden monster. This may sound like a fun premise for a virtual-reality video game, but there is a serious purpose behind the new game Sea Hero Quest VR; helping neuroscientists design a new test for dementia.
London-based game design firm Glitchers worked with researchers from British and Swiss universities, as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s charities, to create Sea Hero Quest VR. Development of the free-to-download game, which is being released Tuesday for Samsung’s Gear VR headset and Facebook Inc.’s Oculus Rift, was funded by German mobile carrier Deutsche Telekom AG…Neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists will analyze the data to hopefully learn more about how humans develop spatial awareness and navigate new environments. Researchers believe subtle degradation in these skills may be an early warning sign of dementia and that information from the game could eventually lead to new tests to detect cognitive impairment earlier.”
Virtual reality is increasingly being used therapeutically – to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder or alleviate chronic pain. And scientists who study the brain are already using VR-based experiments in labs, Maxwell Scott-Slade, the creative director at Glitchers, said. But the Sea Hero Quest game will let scientists gather data on a much greater scale. Deutsche Telekom said in a statement that just two minutes of virtual reality game play in the new Sea Hero Quest collects the equivalent of five hours of lab-based research.
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