In this presentation, we will describe our interdisciplinary collaboration between the researchers from Ontario Tech University and healthcare professionals in the Geriatric Dementia Unit at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. Our project aims at co-designing prototypes to improve the traditional form of reminiscence therapy for persons with dementia (PWD) by adding immersive, customizable and interactive virtual reality (VR) experiences. Reminiscence therapy is a multi-sensory treatment that uses a combination of sight, touch, taste, smell and sound to help PWD to remember events, people and places from the past, which can facilitate better understanding and management of responsive behaviours.
This project is guided by the four phases of Participatory Co-Design Framework:
1) Contextual Inquiry;
2) Participatory Design;
3) Product Design; and
4) Prototype as Hypothesis.
Our presentation will outline the process of our co-design, participatory approach and the prototype development, including web-based reminiscence application, and non-immersive and immersive VR prototypes. We will highlight the use of emotion recognition and facial tracking technologies to evaluate user interaction and experiences, as well as our future integration of gaming and sensory components to promote user engagement within the VR environment. The positive mental stimulation associated with VR reminiscence experiences will have the potential to improve dementia care and recovery by promoting PWD’s quality of life and increased sense of social connectedness.