Playing in the corridors of a nursing home? …really ?

Much of this blog is about web culture, latterly, how personalised apps can be optimised to support people with dementia (this is the subject of my PhD). Games can be a wonderful addition the life in a nursing home environment, but that doesn’t have to mean bingo or blowing bubbles. (See previous my blog entries)

But how to reinterpret them using digital technology? Remember how newspapers used to look? Facsimiles of the printed version were simply uploaded onto the web. It took sometime before the concept of news was re-envisioned to suit the online medium.

But then, maybe the idea of ‘formal games’ isn’t the focus at all.  Here’s a video that shows how simple and spontaneous a game can be; it’s between two people who don’t know each other, can’t see each other’s faces, are caught in a traffic snarl , and get playful. (Thanks to my QUT colleague Zac Fitzwalter who posted it on his gamification blog).

This  game that costs nothing, takes up no room, is not dangerous, takes next to no time,  and could bring about a spontaneous moment of fun in high-care corridors. Let me know what happens, if you do indeed try it.

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Dementia Journal of Australia, April 2014 (in press)

The Dementia Journal of Australia is helping us collect  data for our ‘Identity and Interests’ survey, which is running live, on-line, until March 31 2014.

Please do our survey if you are a person experiencing dementia or are a person supporting them. If you have had family experience of dementia, past or present, please also consider doing the survey:

Many thanks to Keely Cambourne from the DJA for writing the article that explains our survey in greater detail.

A team of researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, is developing a virtual environment for people with dementia and is calling out to people in the dementia community to undertake an on-line questionnaire that will help to determine the software program’s content and interactions.

The questionnaire, which will be open until March 31s t 2014, will help the team to ensure that the content is relevant to users. “Think of it as academically-focussed crowd-sourcing”, says principal researcher and doctoral student, Mandy Salomon. “In order that the activities be meaningful, we must to learn about into people’s own experiences, so the survey gives the dementia community an opportunity to have their say.

Known as the ‘Identity and Interests’ survey, responders are asked to collaborate as much as is possible with the person in their care. ‘For validation purposes we need boundaries around the data, so we ask the carer to be the responder, but encourage them to collaborate with the person in their care if this is possible.

“We are looking to get a sense of individual likes, dislikes and, as the digital world is world of possibilities, what the person wishes for or misses; we can create objects or interactions that may not be feasible in the real world,” Ms Salomon said. “We want to get a sense of common themes; as an example, if 50 per cent of responders say the person with dementia misses someone they grew up with, that suggests that relationships are important in this world. If family pets feature prominently, we can work on introducing animals into the software.” she said.

The main project is called Applying Virtual Environments for Dementia Care, known as AVED, and features a prototype 3-D environment that people can play on a touch screen tablet, such as an iPad. Ms Salomon finds that tablet-based devices are suited to a wide range of people as input is through touch and there is no need for a keyboard. The app will also enable users to upload film, photography, images and books, further personalising it.

“AVED is not a cure, nor are we saying it is going to improve cognition. It’s a tool that aims to promote engagement not just with digital content, but also between people. Potentially, it’s a conduit for conversation and understanding.”

Trials will be undertaken with the prototype in June this year. 

Ms Salomon’s team is aiming for 500 responses by connecting with community networks globally. Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria is a partner in AVED and has endorsed the survey.

“Not many questionnaires link dementia with open-ended possibilities. We want people’s imaginations to be let loose for this questionnaire.

Click the following to access the survey, it takes around 10  minutes to complete and is open until March 31st 2014:


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Posted in Applied Virtual Environment for Dementia Care (AVED), Dementia, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Software for people with dementia – Christine Bryden’s 2013 speech resonates.

Christine Bryden’s insight, empathy and fierce intellect has never been more potently combined as she contemplates life in a ‘dementia prison’ (otherwise known as a dementia unit, within a residential aged care facility) as a consequence of her terminal illness.

With all good intentions, dementia-care advocates can dilute their message by keeping things nice. Not so Ms Bryden, who has had the illness since 1995, when she was 46. Her speech is challenging – this is a disease ‘that will kill us over time’, a secure dementia unit is ‘long term palliative care. There is no need to ‘jolly’ up a person who sits sleepily in a chair in an apathetic state. This, she explains, ‘could be me, preparing for my death’, and, as a person who has come to the end of life, ‘my spiritual, emotional and physical needs must be supported’.

As a researcher looking at how best to create software for people with dementia, Bryden’s speech presented by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency deepens my understanding. Peacefulness, calm and quiet contemplation must be part of a user’s experience.

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Man gives birth to Stars: Scanderia’s alpha release of the game ‘Quark’

This link takes you to a Vimeo video of Quark’s (alpha version). For a profile on this beautiful  game about creating the cosmos and their kickstarter campaign, see

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AVED Video

Here’s a short film about my research ‘AVED’, which stands for ‘Applying Virtual environments to Dementia Care’. I wish to acknowledge the support of Swinburne University of Technology, The Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre and Alzheimer’s Australia (Victoria) and the residents and staff of Emmy Monash Aged Care 


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Leap Motion: could this new gestural interface signal the end of the mouse ?

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Robots Vs Humans : no competition; cup stacking shows there is a long way to go

Moral of the story: three year olds CAN help with the dishes…

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emotional content

1.Rather sentimental but sweet…this film demonstrates that thinking about love is a measurable impact (via scanning on an MRI)

The Love Competition from Brent Hoff on Vimeo.

2. High end animation on Hip Dysplasia, created by Surgical Multimedia; this educational video is a training module designed  for early childhood education, features an evocative digital baby.

(the voiceover is mine)

Developmental Dysplasia

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Posted in Applied Virtual Environment for Dementia Care (AVED), augmented reality, Health | Tagged | 3 Comments

Along the virtuality continuum

Over the coming months, I’ll be using this site to share and construct some hopefully useful thoughts about why it is that ‘traditional’ virtual reality platforms with 3D graphics are not being taken up by the services sector, while augmented reality, via location-based applications (mobile AR), is being explored with a fair degree of enthusiasm.

See for example, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, one of the countries largest and oldest banks; it jumped head-long into mobile AR joy in 2010.

Really useful tool ? Marketing gimmickry ? Early adopter hype ? I’d like to know how the service is actually going. More importantly, I’d like to know what factors are influencing the services sector in their decision to, on the one hand, explore augmented reality (AR), and on the other,  leave virtual reality (VR) languishing in what technology analyst Garnter describes as ‘the trough of disillusionment‘.

I’ll be posting some interesting examples of both AR and VR to accompany the theoretical side of the investigation.
Here’s a digital construction by Paul Nicholls of a possible future built environment. The project was part of his Unit 15 course work at the Bartlett School of Architecture, LCU(UK).

GOLDEN AGE – SOMEWHERE from Paul Nicholls on Vimeo.

*Thanks to Alphaville artist Keiichi Matsuda for the link. (See Matsuda’s provocative ‘Augmented City’ project in the  previous post)

Comments welcome

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Posted in augmented reality, future cities, MUVEs | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Augmented city – grab your 3D glasses for this….

…or watch in 2D on YouTube

Augmented City 3D from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

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