Virtual reality project for disadvantaged receives €4.8m EC boost

The European Commission has awarded some €4.8 million to an innovative tech project designed to help the elderly and those with neurological disorders.

Virtual reality

The European Commission has given a 4.8 million boost to an innovative tech project designed to help the elderly and those with neurological disorders.

The VERVE initiative is designed to create personalised virtual reality scenarios for those believed to be at risk of social exclusion. It's a collaborative effort led by Trinity College Dublin, with support from academic and the healthcare industries in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The end goal is to increase user ability, allowing older people and those with neurological disorders to overcome their fear, apathy or phobia and thus carry out daily life activities in a fulfilling and dignified manner.

The EC funding will go towards helping project team members make use of 3D web graphics, gaming and other sophisticated technologies to help treat those suffering from fear and other issues as a result of age of neurological disorders.

Specifically, VERVE's work will focus on three situations: fear of falling and Parkinson's disease; apathy linked to cognitive decline and behavioural disturbances, such as Alzheimer's disease; and other anxiety related emotional disturbances.

"The end goal of the novel ICT technologies being developed in VERVE is to increase user ability, allowing older people and those with neurological disorders to overcome their fear, apathy or phobia and thus carry out daily life activities in a fulfilling and dignified manner," said Carol O'Sullivan Professor of visual computing and VERVE project co-ordinator at Trinity College.

"The key to our success will be the fact that the clinical intermediary users will be actively participating during the development of the ICT tools and platforms, and will thus guarantee that the end result will be usable and accepted by the end-users."

Feedback from project participants and those close to them such as family, care and health workers will be sought to assess the success of the initiative and the technologies involved. Following that feedback loop, it is hoped VERVE may expand its focus to target and help a wider range of disadvantaged individuals.

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