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Published on May 8th, 2014 | by admin

Microsoft backs campaign to bring fun to the lives of people living with dementia using state-of-the-art video game technology

Melbourne, Australia:Alzheimer’s Australia Vic and Opaque Multimedia have today announced that Microsoft has offered further support for a Pozible crowd funding campaign which aims to create an interactive virtual forest environment for people living with dementia.

The Forest Project will uses Microsoft’s Kinect 2 technology to provide a natural and intuitive controls for users. With new support from Microsoft, in the form of the ID@Xbox program and the Kinect4Windows program, the Forest will be made available on both the Xbox One and Windows PCs.

Epic Games has supported the project since its inception through their Unreal Engine 4 – the next-generation video game technology behind some of the most visually impressive video games of recent years – meaning The Forest Project will be among the first Unreal Engine 4 applications supported by the advanced features of Microsoft’s Kinect 2 Windows program.

The Forest Project will allow users to interact with a hyper-realistic virtual forest through a series of simple gestural inputs, allowing them to manipulate the environment creating effects such as weather, time and seasonal transitions.

The combination of technologies will mean televisions and home video game consoles can turn a living room or a lounge in a care centre into an enchanted space that both stimulates the senses and engages through interactivity. Currently in development, The Forest Project is targeted to be released on multiple platforms in early 2015.

“As people in the latter stages of dementia often do not possess the cognitive faculties necessary to use a controller, this unique combination of the latest technologies will mean they can interact with the environment using the simplest and most intuitive interface available,” said Norman Wang, Opaque Multimedia’s Art Lead on the project.

The Forest Project will use the advanced features of the Kinect 2 to conduct remote biometric readings for the person living with dementia, warning carers and family members if the person using the application is experiencing distress.

Combined with Microsoft’s SmartGlass technology, carers will be able to monitor the person engaging with the forest without needing to break the immersion. With this technology, carers will even be able to remotely monitor and interact with the application.

With less than two weeks left to go The Forest Project has already amassed more than $23,000 from 126 supporters globally. The campaign aims to raise AU$90,000 in total.

“Our dream of creating a unique sensory therapy forest experience for people living with dementia is drawing ever closer as more and more people get behind the campaign,” said Evan Gordon, General Manager Fundraising, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic.

“The whole concept has created a huge buzz amongst traditional and online media and the general public. We have certainly managed to get the nation, and indeed the rest of the world, talking.

“All we need is one final push so that we can introduce people living with dementia to a world of wonder, joy and happiness through this platform – improving their well-being and quality of life. Together, we CAN make this happen!” said Mr Gordon.

The Forest Project will record a number of technological firsts:

•           one of the first serious game titles to use Unreal Engine 4 for dementia care and the first application of its kind in Australia

•           one of the first attempts to support the care of people with dementia using game technology as well as supporting sensory therapy applications

•           and one of the first to be tailored specifically to the needs of people living with dementia and their carers

Dementia is the third leading cause of death in Australia and there is no cure. In Australia alone there are more than 330,000 people living with dementia and this number will increase to around 900,000 by 2050. These figures are mirrored around the world. Everybody will be impacted in some way by dementia during their lifetime.

The Forest Project was officially launched at the 2014 Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco in March.

To support The Forest Project campaign visit http://pozible.com/virtualforest4dementia.


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