Borders firm creates virtual reality headset to help dementia sufferers

A GALASHIELS company has developed virtual reality technology that it hopes will improve understanding of what it is like to live with dementia – and inform the design of homes and buildings to help sufferers and their families.

The Virtual-Reality Empathy Platform, a headset device that has been developed with input from academia, allows designers of products and spaces to experience the world from the perspective of dementia sufferers. It is said to provide a full-scale immersive experience which helps signal where alterations can be made to lighting, flooring and walls to improve accessibility.

The company, which has been supported by South of Scotland Enterprise, also noted that the headsets can be used in the design process of new buildings such as care homes, hospitals or sheltered housing, while also having the potential to assess existing buildings and environments.

It is hoped the device can significantly improve the quality of life of people living with the condition.

David Burgher, founder of VR-EP, said: “We are a small business, with big ambitions to help people live and age well. We have recently been working collaboratively with a multinational client to develop their innovative dementia-friendly products. This led to being shortlisted for the Franco-British Trade & Investment Awards.

“SOSE’s support will assist us in developing shared VR strategies to improve quality of life for people with dementia and their care providers – whilst overcoming the current challenges of social distancing and new working regimes.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of South of Scotland Enterprise, said: “VR-EP is a fantastic example of the brilliantly innovative organisations we have right here in the south of Scotland.

“SOSE is keen to hear from any other innovative organisations throughout the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.”

“We can offer financial support to organisations – but crucially, we can also provide expert advice, contacts and guidance to help them get to where they need to go.”

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