Working in conjunction with Wireframe Immersive and Australia’s Dementia Centre, Glasgow, Scotland–based architect David Burgher, of Aitken Turnbull Architects, has developed a kit of virtual reality tools to enable design professionals to visualize perceptive impairments related to dementia and old age in the built environment, according to Curbed.
The Virtual Reality Empathy Platform comprises a laptop, VR headset, camera and controller tool. It is intended to provide designers with an immersive component to help improve lighting, floor plans and overall design of care facilities and living environments.
- VR-empowered design is expected to reduce building and remodeling costs by providing insight during the design phase into how individuals with poor vision and hallucinations would experience the space.
The portfolio of virtual reality design cases continues to expand as contractors, designers and technologists probe the “if you could only see what I see” actuality of VR technology. Burgher’s VR kit expands on research conducted at the University of Cambridge, in the U.K., where gloves and impairment goggles were used to simulate arthritis and vision impairment. Both efforts are aimed at accelerating the inclusive design vector to create building interiors better-suited for individuals with dementia as well as other mobility and perception impairments.
Virtual reality is also gaining wider adoption as a safety training tool for the contractors charged with building complex healthcare facilities and other large commercial projects. In September 2016, Bechtel rolled out an immersive safety training program at the company’s innovation center in Houston, using a SafeScan VR program from New York City–based Human Condition Safety to repeatedly expose workers to simulated dangerous or intensive environments.
Meanwhile, hardware manufacturers along with researchers at MIT are working on ways to make the VR experience even more immersive by removing the bulky wires and clumsy interfaces traditionally needed for the high rates of data transfer to headsets.