Exciting things continue to happen at the interface between tech and psychology. In this case new applications in Virtual Reality are serving the needs of seniors in retirement homes who tend to be limited in their ability to travel and continue experiencing the world directly. We know that depression in seniors can result from the inevitable decline in health and the related difficulty of being present and engaged in social events. Rendever.com is a new startup testing out the ability of seniors to travel virtually and experience the world in new ways. One application of this is for family members to rent the camera system that would allow the senior to experience an event in real time as though he/she were present in person. What an exciting idea! See the story here.
A similar idea has been piloted in Australia by Feros Care where a robot (IPad mounted on a Segway) can roam in various locations all the while controlled remotely by seniors in a retirement home. How cool is that !
(Here’s a local example in San Francisco using more static content. )
While the robot system has some advantages of mechanically responding to instructions from the senior, I wonder if a human avatar would be more responsive and adaptable. In the future there might be a new industry of human “traveling avatars”, equipped with camera systems, who would be employed to travel to interesting destinations or events, live-feeding the experience back to the senior who would otherwise not be able to attend. While there is no substitute for “being there”, this could be the closest experience for a senior who would otherwise not be able to have the experience…