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article imageWayback VR project aims to help those with dementia

By Tim Sandle     Nov 21, 2017 in Health
London - The Wayback project aims to bring back vivid memories for those struggling with dementia. This is through a series of recreations using digital technology and 3D goggles.
Wayback is a virtual reality project that has been composed in order to help those who have been assessed as having dementia. The aim is to try and recall certain memories based on significant events that the person with dementia may have experienced during their life. By recalling memories, the designers hope this will spark conversations and aid to well-being.
The primary focus is with Alzheimer’s, although the approach could be suitable for other forms of dementia. This is based on the understanding, as discussed by different care professionals, that “triggering happy memories from the past can work wonders when caring for people with Alzheimer’s. They can improve physical well-being and bring comfort, as these memories help to reinforce a sense of identity and feelings of self-worth.”
In trials, The Guardian reports, a virtual reality simulation has been put together based on the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth, designed for those living in the U.K. The re-creation of the Elizabeth II (in England and Wales) / Elizabeth I (Scotland) June coronation was put together using images, actors, period costumes and representative props. An Islington street, in North London, was used as the backdrop.
Making a virtual reality movie
The virtual reality coronation movie is set to be the first of a series of virtual reality moving pictures based around key moments in history. Each of the films can be watched using a smartphone and three-dimensional goggles. Inspiration came from three people who used to work in advertising, after discussing family experiences of dementia.
Discussing the Wayback concept, Dan Cole, one of Wayback’s creators, is quoted by Southwark Carers as saying: “If the film can open some memories, start a conversation or bring a smile, that’s a success.”
He adds, speaking of one of the patients participating in the Wayback videos: “It was his old stomping ground and he kept recognizing places and telling me little tales; the pub his dad drank in, where he hung about with his mates, even an alley where he once got into a scrap. In that fleeting moment it was so clear in his mind. I could ask questions. He could tell me things.”
Kickstarter campaign
The project began as a Kickstarter campaign, where £35,000 ($45,000) was raised to make the first movie. The company behind the virtual reality film is Valenstein & Fatt (also known as ‘Grey London’). As well as Cole, others involved were Andy Garnett, Howard Green and strategic planner Elisa Chami-Castaldi. The director was Kevin Thomas of Thomas Thomas Films, visual effects company MPC London did the virtual reality rendition and sound studio 750mph and The Quarry Editors added finishing touches.
This approach was backed by experts like Dr. David Shear from ‘Dementiaville’ and founder of Dementia Care Matters. If successful, virtual reality may be applied to address other similar conditions.
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