Personalised Virtual Reality Scenarios for Groups at Risk of Social Exclusion

The VERVE project aims to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged groups including older people and those with neurological disorders. The international project, funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme, is coordinated by Trinity College Dublin and includes collaborative partners in healthcare and academia in France, UK, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Researchers on the project are developing VR and gaming interventions to support the treatment of people who are at risk of social exclusion due to fear and apathy associated with ageing or a neurological disorder. The VERVE consortium is applying leading edge research to simulate personalised and populated virtual reality (VR) environments, 3D web graphics, and ‘serious’ games as a means to addressing some of the challenges faced by the target groups. A variety of clinical, laboratory and industry partners are helping to design the therapeutic tools and games, and evaluate their usefulness with participants. The project team is working with those at risk of social exclusion, as well as their carers, families, health professionals and relevant support organisations, to solicit ideas and feedback and to promote the project’s aims and achievements.

VERVE’s efforts will focus on three situations, each targeting a different group of participants: fear of falling and Parkinson’s disease; apathy related to cognitive decline and behavioural disturbances, in particular due to Alzheimer’s Disease; and other emotional disturbances linked to anxiety. Although focusing on these areas initially, it is expected that the results of the research will be applicable to a much wider range of potentially disadvantaged individuals.

Why “VERVE”?

How do you go about summing up the purpose of an EU project in a single name? Well we picked out some of the names in our description of the project and came up with V.E.R.V.E. –

Vanquishing fear and apathy through
E-inclusion: personalised and populated
Realistic
Virtual
Environments for clinical, home and mobile platforms.

Then we looked it up in a dictionary and liked the definition… “vivaciousness; liveliness; animation”. We hope that our research will help bring more vivaciousness, liveliness and animation to the lives of all those participants who are working with us and helping us with the project.

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