Galashiels-based business holding the world’s first virtual reality device for better understanding of what someone with dementia experiences

Borders firm leads the way with virtual reality technology to assist understanding of dementia

A Galashiels-based business have helped develop the world’s first virtual reality device that aims to provide a better understanding of what someone with dementia experiences.

With the help of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Virtual-Reality Empathy Platform (VR-EP) is helping to drive awareness through the use of their revolutionary technology.

VR-EP have worked with industry leading academia on the headset device which has the potential to make a real impact on support of people living with dementia, their families and care providers. 

The device allows designers of products and spaces to perceive the world from the perspective of those living with dementia – by providing a full-scale immersive experience which helps signal where alterations could be made to elements such as lighting, flooring and walls to improve accessibility.

Specifically, the headsets can be used in the design process of new buildings such as care homes, hospitals or sheltered housing, as well as having the potential to assess existing buildings and environments.

Dementia-friendly design can significantly improve the quality of life for people living with the condition – with VR-EP hoping its device can be life-changing for many of the 900,000 people in the UK living with dementia, if widely rolled out.

As a result of its recent success, VR-EP picked up a Silver Award in the Technology and Innovation category at the prestigious Franco-British Trade & Investment Awards earlier this month.

The organisation is now focused on the widespread promotion of its device – including its ongoing initiative with Age Scotland, which has included the VR headsets being deployed at an Immersive Dementia Awareness Workshop this month.

David Burgher, VR-EP Founder, said:

“We are a small business, with big ambitions to help people live and age well.

“We have recently been working collaboratively with a multinational client to develop their innovative dementia-friendly products. This led to being shortlisted for the Franco-British Trade & Investment Awards.

“SOSE’s support will assist us in developing shared VR strategies to improve quality of life for people with dementia and their care providers - whilst overcoming the current challenges of social distancing and new working regimes.

SOSE Chief Executive, Jane Morrison-Ross, said:

“VR-EP is a fantastic example of the brilliantly innovative organisations we have right here in the South of Scotland.

“SOSE is keen to hear from any other innovative organisations throughout the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway to look at how we can help and support them.

“We can offer financial support to organisations – but crucially, we can also provide expert advice, contacts and guidance to help them get to where they need to go.”

Stuart Thomson, Business Development Specialist at SOSE, added:

“We are delighted that SOSE has been able to put VR-EP in touch with the right people to drive their innovative invention forward.

“Their award nomination at the Franco-British Trade and Investment Awards was very well deserved - and reflective of the hard work that has gone into creating the VR-EP headset, which has the opportunity to help so many people.”