Posts tagged " Elderly "

For Senior Citizens, the future is VR

April 28th, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

Craig Palmer Hasn’t left his Manhattan apartment in four years, but on a recent afternoon, the 78-year-old made a transatlantic voyage—while seated upright in his bed. He visited Stonehenge, a favorite vacation site of his; the streets of London’s Russell Square, near his old apartment; the stretch of Broadway where he lived and worked for so many years. A singer and actor for most of his career, Palmer was eager to poke his head backstage at the Triad, an Upper West Side nightclub he used to frequent. Back and forth the man moved his head, his eyes obscured by the Gear VR headset he wore.

Sitting at the foot of the bed, Jake Kahana kept a close eye on Palmer, guiding the trip via tablet. Show tunes played quietly in the distance, and car horns blared from a window outside. “This is awesome,” Palmer said, tilting his head under the weight of the headset. “I get homesick for everything.” The experience was among Palmer’s first with VR, but that made it no less important. The bedridden man represents a population that Kahana fears has been forgotten by the VR industry: seniors.

Elderly VR

Everyone talks about VR as a millennial thing,” says Kahana, a New York-based designer and film director. “But the elderly are the fastest-growing segment of the population, and there really weren’t that many people looking at how this could work for them.” Kahana wanted to be one of those people, so he created , a series of films designed to benefit seniors. The films, which he officially unveils today, are the result of more than 18 months of production, testing and focus groups. “They want entertainment,” Kahana says. “I know this sounds silly, but seniors are just like us.”

Kahana’s idea for the project came about through his own struggles in communicating with his own grandmother. First they spoke on the phone, but transitioned to writing letters. When that became too difficult for her, he told her that he wished she could be in his living room in New York—a realization that inspired him Kahana, to try and find a solution.

Despite precipitous growth in VR research over recent years, less exists around applications for the elderly. However, findings in other fields may hold a clue to VR’s benefits. Researchers have learned that listening to music from the 1930s or 1940s can jog memories for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. At Stanford, researchers found that virtual reality simulations had a direct impact on how people behaved in the real world, even after they took off their headsets—in fact, as neuroscientists at UCLA discovered, the part of one’s brain that responds to their VR surroundings is different than the part that responds to the real world, raising questions about the new ways in VR it could affect memory.

Given the dearth of literature, Kahana opted for field work. He spent close to six months visiting community centers like DOROT, a senior facility in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, talking to seniors about what they might want from a VR experience. (Headsets and phones were donated by Samsung and software by Rendever, an MIT startup focused on bringing VR to the elderly.) His work with the Clinton Foundation had involved grandeur—sweeping vistas, the streets of Nairobi—and he expected that his new audience would also thrill to the possibility. Yet, the seniors he spoke with simply missed the everyday experiences they could no longer physically access: museums, concerts, tours. Despite being anxious about using a new technology, Kahana says, the seniors were above all excited. “They love to learn,” he says. “They had these limitations, physical or otherwise, but they still wanted new experiences.”

Kahana then set out to direct the 10 films that make up his series. In one, a pair of violinists play a cozy apartment concert for friends. In another, viewers experience a concert at an LA bar today where patrons and performers are still clad in World War II-era clothing. There’s a tour and concert at the a Lower East Side museum; a peek into a dance rehearsal; a guided mediation and chorus. Hoping to avoid the motion sickness that can affect VR users, Kahana’s shots are mostly from a stationary standpoint, surrounded by movement that isn’t too jarring or sudden. They’re simple, yet powerful in concept and execution, highlighting elements of a experience many take for granted while creating a sense of intimacy. The technology and films will be donated to DOROT to use for senior programming—and Kahana is already training nursing home staff how to use the headsets on their own.

Thanks to Wired for the story. Let’s hope the tech is in UK nursing homes soon.

 

How A New Sensor Could Turn Your Smartphone Into A Molecular Scanner

January 31st, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

A Japanese city has introduced a novel way to keep track of senior citizens with dementia who are prone to getting lost – tagging their fingers and toes with scan-able barcodes. A company in Iruma, north of Tokyo, developed tiny nail stickers, each of which carries a unique identity number to help concerned families find missing loved ones, according to the city’s social welfare office.

In 2017, an estimated 222.9 million people in the US will have smartphones, worldwide that number is expected to surpass two billion. Through apps and wearables, we’re using those smartphones to help us track our health, fitness, sleep patterns, ovulation, heart rate, water intake, etc.

But, what if we could use our mobile devices to scan and then instantly analyse the molecular make-up of the food we eat or the health of soil for crops or an on-the-spot analysis of a tissue sample by a doctor or nurse regardless of where they are?

NeoSpectra Sensor

The NeoSpectra Sensor

Si-Ware Systems has developed a small, near infrared spectral sensor that can analyse materials in real-time without sending samples to a lab. It’s small enough to be built into a smartphone for an on-the-spot analysis of anything you can scan with a mobile device. The company says it has applications for both the consumer and industrial markets. The sensor could be used in food safety and analysis, evaluating the health of soils, oil and gas composition as well as determine the purity of pharmaceutical drugs.

Currently, the device is being tested in the agriculture, petrochemical and healthcare markets. Because of its small size, smaller than a finger joint, it can be incorporated into consumer electronics products. Spectroscopy and material analysis has been missing from consumer applications because of size, cost and form restraints.

In the same way that inertial sensors, accelerometers and gyros became small enough and low-cost enough for consumer electronic products, enabling a host of applications for motion sensing, NeoSpectra Micro can give performance material analysis to the consumer electronics world,” said Scott Smyser, executive vice president, Si-Ware Systems.

Last December 2016, a collaborative team of researchers from Stockholm and Uppsala University in Sweden and UCLA in California, turned a smartphone into a microscope. In a paper published in Nature Communications, the team created a mobile-phone-based bio-molecular analysis and diagnostics prototype that could analyse the mutations in a cell’s DNA. This type of analysis at the point-of-care opens up new opportunities for digital molecular analysis and telemedicine.

Thanks to Jennifer Hicks at Forbes for the article content.