Virtual Recreation for Elderly Connection
- Ahmed Munir: Design, Research
- Tuan Tran: Digital Mockup, Research
- Umair Ahsan: Testing Process, Research
- Sulaiman Mahmood: Testing and Analysis, Research
Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the main population that was affected were the Elderly people. They were under the danger of contracting COVID-19 due to in-person interactions with other members of the society. This led the elderly demographic to quarantine themselves from each other as well as from the rest of the society resulting in a massive fall out in socialization among the Elderly and an increase in feeling loneliness. This created a need to connect and socialize while mitigating the associated health risks of meeting in-person.
People will now be able to meet and play games via VR like technology. While maintaining covid safe rules and regulations people will now be able to enjoy a pre pandemic lifestyle. The elderly will now be able to enjoy every type of game, sport, and discussion. People can connect with folks across the globe as well as meet their friends and family. All a person will need is a VR headset and the rest will be history.
Paper Prototype, Testing Process, and Results
We started our paper prototype by thinking of what features we wanted to include in our virtual world. Our idea was to show the screens that would appear in our virtual world as close as possible in our paper prototype.
We then had our prototype tested by other people. Although we gave them an overview in the beginning of the test of how they were generally expected to go about the prototype, they were expected to make choices as the user themselves, in order to really grasp what small details we may have been missing. For example, soon after the user made it to one part of the virtual world, they wanted to go back, but there was no back button on the prototype. Through that specific test, we were able to catch a mistake in our design that we had overlooked as a result of the usability done with our prototype. Similar to this, we were able to discover that we needed a variety of activities, needed to specify which areas are interactable, and show a button to add and remove any contacts.
1. Create a space for elderly to socialize with friends, family members and anyone else without having to risk their health.
2. Introduce elderly to new technology usage through easy to master UI.
For our solution, we designed a virtual world where the elderly can socialize with their friends, family members as well as providing opportunities to meet new people. This goal is achieved in two ways:
- Each user will have their own private “lounge area” where they get to customize and make it unique to themselves. No one else will have access to this lounge area unless they get an invite from the owner. This will serve as an area for the elderly to socialize more privately.
- Every user will have access to a central hub area. This central hub features a plethora of activities ranging from playing tennis with one another to hiking in real-world landmarks. These will provide the elderly with fun and engaging activities that they can do with anyone. If they want to meet up with people in their contacts, they can simply press the invite button. If the invitee accepts, they will be transported to the same location. There is also a join option in the contact menu which directly asks a person for an invite to their current location.
All in all, through our research we learned that elderly people are facing a variety of issues such as lack of socialization, mental stimulation, and an increase in loneliness. To add on, the Covid-19 pandemic only escalated these issues, further singling out elderly people from society. To combat this issue, we came up with a virtual reality interface, where elderly people could interact with other people, as well as allow them to fulfill their desires for activities that otherwise may have been very difficult for them to do. We hope that through Virtual Recreation for Elderly Connection (V-Rec), we will allow elderly people to do the activities they want to do, with who they want, and where they want, to allow elderly people to connect with society in an easy and accessible way.