Imagine a world without limitations on where you can go and what you can do. It’s a world where your imagination can unlock new doors to creative engagement, socialization, cultural learning and more. Thanks to advancements in virtual and augmented reality technology, people of all ages can step into any experience they can imagine, right from their own living room.
Virtual reality (VR) technology has existed for years, but it is expected to rapidly improve and advance now that Apple has entered the competitive market with their new “Apple Vision Pro” headset. While their augmented and virtual reality product is Apple’s first step into the “spatial computing” world, experts anticipate that healthy competition with other major brands like Meta, Sony, and Google will only increase the rate that the technology improves to be more user- friendly.
Growing Bolder recently spoke with Bret Wright, creator of the gaming company The Tool Shed, about the benefits the technology could provide older adults.
“Next door to me is a memory clinic, and they’re actually using virtual reality setups to allow people to visit places that they’ve never been,” Wright said. “They’re able to walk the Great Wall of China, or go to Tibet, or Bali, or any number of places and actually experience that on the ground.”
According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Texas, memory-impaired patients who used VR technology experienced an increase in overall wellbeing, feelings of relaxation, and decreased feelings of anxiety. Meanwhile, the National Library of Medicine found that VR was an effective distraction from everyday aches and pains, increased relaxation, and enhanced “the physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being of older adults, including those living with cognitive impairment.”
Wright continued to explain that VR technology offers benefits for people of all ages, especially in increasing social connectivity and boosting creative engagement. “The social aspect of it is very appealing,” Wright continued.
“When you can’t get together physically, to be able to don an avatar in a virtual world and hang out in an Irish pub with your friends or play a game together. We all need those social aspects, especially if you’re isolated.
Of course, virtual reality technology may not be for everyone, especially those with visual sensitivities. But for those who want to try it out, the entire world will be available to you digitally. You can connect with friends, play games, create art, travel to places you’ve never been and so much more.
This article is featured in the Fall 2023 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.