It’s no secret that life expectancy is increasing as medical and scientific understanding increases. During the 1930’s, the average life expectancy was 59.7 years. That number has slowly but steadily climbed to 79 years according to the 2017 census. However, the problem is that while medicine can keep a person alive for a much longer, fuller life than in the past, there are problems that go along with a global rise in the average life expectancy. Many elderly people find it difficult to engage in the activities that they once enjoyed, and find their lives severely impacted by factors like deteriorating health. Often, this problem persists until the person can no longer function on their own.
Elderly people who are not isolated and who participate in social/community activity activities live longer and healthier lives, as you might assume. It’s just human nature, as we’re social creatures. However, since not all elderly people are physically able to engage in as many activities as they might prefer, Microsoft’s Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces (SocialNUI), as well as human-computer interaction specialists, computer scientists, social workers, and gerontologists from the University of Melbourne in Australia are working on a solution. The project would implement full-bodied, gesture-based interactions for people who are constrained by limited mobility. Avatars can be used to create a virtual presence between older people who are unable to meet face-to-face.
This project is in an embryonic phase, but potential enrollment for a trial phase is available to access NOW. We at ARinMED think that this could be an extremely influential application for AR technology. Elderly people who currently feel isolated, with a staggeringly high rate of depression, could experience a complete change in their lifestyle when technology is able to deliver the social interactions they are missing. It can put them in contact with friends and distant family members. While videochat has helped to provide these services, AR can add a new dimension to these chats, one that is more dynamic, fulfilling, and exciting.
Here at ARinMED, we welcome any technology capable of improving quality of live. This proposal to help the elderly combat isolation, depression, and cognitive impairment, is aimed to improve the quality of life for a demographic of people that many other technologies ignore. So, when you look at this inspired, passionate project, you can easily see why we are so determined and excited to keep you updated on the newest AR technology and applications. Tell us what you think in the comments section!