This evening, I carefully wrapped up my fully-charged Oculus Quest VR headset in one of my old black T-shirts, and packed it into a carry-on bag along with my Oculus Touch hand controllers, the Quest charging cable and a couple of spare AA batteries (just in case!), and took all of it over to my mother and stepfather’s home for our regular Sunday dinner.
I still can’t get my mother to try virtual reality yet (she cites her bad neck arthritis and not wanting to mess up her hair), but my stepfather has taken to it like a duck to water! At first, I started him off slow, with a few stationary scenes from the Nature Treks VR relaxation app: a sandy tropical beach, a mountain forest glade, etc. Then I started up the Titans of Space Plus app, which has just been released for the Oculus Quest, and let him drive his own spaceship through the solar system, exploring the planets and their moons, which he enjoyed tremendously! I think I may have made a new convert.
Which has got me thinking: are seniors an overlooked market segment when it comes to virtual reality? Obviously, most VR games and apps currently in release are targeted to younger audiences, but you might be interested to note that specific VR applications for seniors are being developed.
For example, I have already written about Alcove VR, who has partnered with the AARP to release a beta app for the Oculus Go VR headset, which allows family members to connect in a virtual living room, share videos and games, and help combat the isolation experienced by some seniors.
Rendever has installed its virtual reality platform in over one hundred senior living communities in North America over the past three years, helping those seniors who may be experiencing cognitive decline or mobility restrictions through such techniques as customized reminiscence therapy (allowing them to virtually revisit their childhood home, their wedding site, or another location from their past).
Likewise, many existing consumer apps (like Nature Treks VR and Google Earth VR) can empower seniors to experience new places and do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do because of cost, time or mobility constraints.
It is obvious that seniors’ use of virtual reality is increasing (along with the rest of the general population), and that more and more research and development work is starting to take place on the practical and therapeutic use of VR in settings such as seniors’ communities. And, of course, the non-practical but still essential recreational and fun uses!
So the next time you pay a visit to your grandma or grandpa, pack your Oculus Quest along. You never know what might happen!