Virtual reality application to experience the world through aging bodies


We Are Alfred
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The new app, developed at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK USA, is one of several virtual reality experiences available at the university.

The virtual reality simulator is called We Are Alfred and was designed as empathy training for caregivers. It gives the user the experience of macular degeneration and hearing loss using a virtual reality headset that offers a three-dimensional experience from the perspective of an elderly man named Alfred, reports the Oklahoman. The aim is to enable people to truly feel what patients are experiencing, according to developers Embodied Labs.

“Other people will be able to feel what the patient feels and feel that patient’s frustration. It is easy to say that it is sad, but to actually generate the condition gives people a step into what it actually feels like,” says University of Illinois medical student Ashley Chin. She is one of many medical students who have had the opportunity to use the system.

The virtual reality program uses the Oculus Rift, a system created to work on a personal computer that is connected to a headset and hand controls for the user to wear and hold in an empty space. In the simulation, a doctor tells the patient that they have hearing loss, and assists them by giving them a hearing device. “This is an 'aha!' moment for learners because some of them haven’t realized that their hearing has been impaired until they can hear normally. The audio before and after receiving the hearing device mimics very closely what an actual person would hear with impairment,” says Embodied Labs curriculum designer, Erin Washington.

Source: The Oklahoman