LA-Based Startup Uses Virtual Reality To Train Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Credit: Mayo Clinic

Perhaps one of the most frightening things that can happen to a human being is being struck with Alzheimer’s disease. With an estimated 6 million Americans living in facilities that specialize in Alzheimer’s care and an aging Baby Boomer population, it’s possible that we’ll see this human ailment turn into an institutional problem in the next few years.

Los Angeles-based Embodied Labs is looking to alleviate some of this pressure with mixed reality.

They’ve developed a new program that helps train caregivers by simulating what it would be like to suffer from the disease. Using a VR headset, users are transported to a fictional reality where lights feel too bright, the print on grocery products is fuzzy, and family members openly show frustration with your behavior for reasons you can’t understand.

One of the characters in the program, Beatriz, is a 60-something year old math teacher with Alzheimer’s. When users don the headset, they experience what it would like to be in Beatriz’s shoes.

For instance, one of the scenes features her on a park bench with her grown daughter. Beatriz gets visibly flustered when she thinks that her daughter has stolen her purse.

Later in the simulation, she startled by the sudden movement of a shadow on the wall of her living room accompanied by a loud noise. A few seconds later, we realize that the shadow and noise were just distorted inputs from the ceiling fan.

Dr. Neelum Aggarwal of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, an Advisor to Embodied Labs, had this to say about the project:

“You are there and you are observing this and you have a deep sense of feeling of what’s happening. We know when there’s an emotional connection to something, that whole experience is enhanced and virtual reality seems to be able to do this.”

When asked about specifically about caregivers, Aggarwal responded:

“Caregivers of people with dementia often ask me, ‘What is she feeling? I don’t know what it’s like. My hope is we not only focus on providers and students that will become future physicians but let’s also use this with the caregivers to help them.”

With professional training likely to remain one of the chief uses of augmented and virtual reality technology, it’s possible that we’ll see more programs that tackle tough issues like this in the future. And if it’s more effective than traditional training methodologies, then it’s only a matter of time before it replaces them entirely.

What do you think of Embodied Labs’ new Alzheimer’s care training program? Let us know in a comment!

IMPORTANT NEWS: Lucyd Update August 6th

Hello Lucyd community! Thanks for your interest and support. We have a lot of exciting developments in the works for 2018 and beyond.

Di Valdi by Lucyd fashion frames

1. The Lucyd eShop opened last week. This will be our sales platform for all Lucyd products. We have launched with four main lines of frames, international shipping, a variety of Rx and plano lens options, and more. The first four lines are Lucyd Loud, a Bluetooth “soundglass” that enables handsfree music and voice assistant; Turboflex, a line of durable, flexible frames; Di Valdi, cutting-edge Italian designer frames, and Lucyd Looks, basic frames with a unique understated style.

In addition to our in-house development of Lucyd Lens and Loud, we are continually researching the best tech and fashion forward glasses worldwide, to make them available on the eShop. We are also making ongoing improvements to the UX of the eShop, so please give us a few weeks as we polish the mobile and desktop experience.

Some of you may be surprised by our decision to launch an eShop, because this is a new development not outlined in our roadmap. But we realized it was needed to allow for the proper customization of our hardware to address the visual requirements of our customers, and the concept of an eShop for tech glasses was born. It has already become one of the only places in the world to purchase Bluetooth glasses with prescription lenses, and likely the only one to deliver in a timely fashion. It is also the first online store in the world for purchasing prescription eyeglasses using crypto as well as fiat currency.

2. The LCD token. Many of you are wondering when LCD will come into play. We are currently developing a wearable app for LCD to enable its use with both Lucyd Lens and Loud. We are also developing integration into the eShop for a rewards program, and redemption for hardware and software. We expect to have these utilities in the next 6–7 months.

3. Lucyd Loud, the Bluetooth soundglass, is still a beta product. We plan to make several enhancements to both the style and technology in this product over the next year.

4. Lucyd Lens, the visual AR smartglass, is expected to enter beta on time in Q1 2019. It will be released via the eShop.

5. We are also developing an app called LINK to improve the usability of smartglasses for common smartphone tasks, with a focus on messaging, navigation, social and search.

6. The LCD token portal at lcd.lucyd.co is temporarily down. It will be back up shortly with an access link in the footer of the eShop.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more updates, and upgrade your eyewear now at lucyd.co!

Lucyd is a new smart eyewear company based in Miami. We are developing smartglasses and an eShop for cutting-edge eyewear.