Sea Hero Quest immerses players in new world of dementia research

Game developers—and academics—are taking dementia research to the next level.

The team that helped launch Sea Hero Quest in 2016 has introduced a virtual reality (VR) version of its eponymous mobile game. The VR version can help researchers further their understanding about human spatial navigation as well as cross validate data collected in the mobile game.

“VR allows an even more immersive and intuitive diagnostic assessment of navigation problems in people who may potentially develop dementia,” says Michael Hornberger, Professor of Applied Dementia Research at the University of East Anglia, in a press release. “Sea Hero Quest VR allows us to measure more intuitively when people are not sure of their bearings, for example by stopping and looking around. VR therefore has the potential to capture additional complementary data to Sea Hero Quest mobile.”

Sea Hero Quest VR creates additional opportunities to gather data, as the game can be understood by people who may not be able to play the mobile game, including potentially people with more advanced dementia. For researchers, the version unlocks new capabilities to collect research and replicate lab-based experiments, such as the award-winning ‘Morris Water Maze,” which previously couldn’t be easily adapted by the mobile game.

The VR version also affords researchers greater precision. The mobile game could determine the orientation of the player within 22.5 degrees, but the VR version has narrowed that to 1.5 degrees, meaning researchers have navigational data that is 15 times more precise.

Sea Hero Quest VR works with the Samsung Gear VR and is available for free on the Oculus mobile platform. Since its launch in late 2016, Sea Hero Quest has been downloaded nearly 3 million times, generating the equivalent of more than 12,000 years of lab-based research. It was developed as part of a collaboration with Deutsche Telekom, University College London, the University of East Anglia, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Glitchers. 

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Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Technology & IT