Design Engineering
Showcase

The Unmentioned

Course
Global Innovation Design
Supervisor
Dr Nejra Van Zalk
Theme
This is Going to Help

In today’s fast-growing aging society, Alzheimer disease has become the most common age-related disease all over the world. Caregivers, who usually are patients’ family members, fail to empathize and communicate with their loved ones due to the lack of knowledge of this irreversible disease.

The Unmentioned aims to help educate the caregivers and the general public for the unmentioned details of the Alzheimer’s disease through an immersive AR simulation experience.

Participants can explore all the hallucinations and delusions from a first-person view with the embodiment of an old man living with Alzheimer’s disease. People can physically walk through an AR portal and enter two daily scenarios (living room and bedroom), and experience difficulties and anxieties of an Alzheimer’s patient in everyday life. For example, people might see weird blocks in the room, illegible newspapers and a creepy cat crying like a baby etc….

 — The Unmentioned

Process

The simulated sound effects and visual elements in the AR scenarios are built upon the most widely used simulation methods called Dementia Simulation Toolkit, developed by The Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (CLRI).

Apart from experiencing symptoms caused by perception failure and visual distortions, participants would also be able to interact with characters including patient’s wife and his daughter. For example, people might hear a series of confusing instructions from his daughter when filling in the medical history forms (a selected reading material for Aphasia simulation), but none of the content would make sense to them. In fact, the AR environment is designed to create an anxious feeling for ordinary people to empathize with the Alzheimer’s everyday situations.

This interactive experience was built and coded in Unity, and further developed as an App running on IOS devices. Spacial sound effects were added in order to enhance the sense of coherence between the virtual content and their locations within a physical room.

Outcomes

This AR simulation tool has been tested in New York Memory Center, a non-profit innovative wellness center for Alzheimer’s disease. Professional caregivers have given positive feedback on gaining much deeper understanding of their patients after trying the AR experience.

According to scientific research, the information being stored, or encoded into memory is 70% higher for AR experiences. Therefore, this AR simulation of Alzheimer’s disease would have great potentials in the future promoted as a meaningful educational tool on a larger scale.

For the public, a better knowledge of these brain diseases can help build up a better social environment for the fast-growing aging population. For designers, empathizing with the target users is the core of designing inclusive products for the elderly. For the Alzheimer’s patients themselves, a clear understanding of what they might face in the future would help them be more mentally prepared for later stages of the disease, as well as better cooperation with treatment exercises in maintaining current phases.

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