Virtual Reality for Family Engagement
Originally published by the Gerontological Society of America in their journal, Innovation in Aging, read the full text of our research paper: "Testing the Feasibility of Virtual Reality With Older Adults With Cognitive Impairments and Their Family Members Who Live at a Distance"
This study was supported by the National Institute on Aging.
Download Research Paper
How was this research funded?
The National Institute on Aging (NIA), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded Rendever a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant to test the potential for impact of their virtual reality (VR) platform with residents experiencing some form of cognitive decline and their adult children who live at a distance.
Rendever’s resident engagement platform was specifically built for seniors and senior living staff to reduce social isolation by enabling older adults to check off bucket list items, revisit meaningful places from their past, and stay connected to their families across distances - all through the power of VR and shared positive experiences. The Rendever family portal allows family members to participate in customizing the experience for their loved ones through sharing personal photos, videos, and 360° footage of family events. This study will bring family members one step closer by allowing them to wear headsets simultaneously and sharing the experience, all from the comfort of their own home.
This NIH grant will fund a study jointly conducted by Rendever and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), to evaluate the acceptability, engagement, and usability challenges of virtual family engagement with this population, as well as the differences in impact across various levels of cognitive impairment (MCI, mild to moderate AD/ADRD).
“We’re ecstatic to be working with the NIH and Rendever on this groundbreaking study,” said Tamara Afifi, professor of Interpersonal Health Communication at UCSB and one of the PIs on the study. “We’re hopeful that this application of technology will make a significant, quantifiable difference in the lives of seniors and their loved ones, and we can’t wait to get started.”
Following this Phase I pilot study, Rendever will work with UCSB and the NIH to analyze results and apply for a Phase II multi-site clinical trial to collect data on a larger scale.
“This is the culmination of over 2 years worth of collaborative effort, and we’re incredibly grateful for the tireless efforts of the team at UCSB, as well as the support of various members at the NIH throughout this process,” said Kyle Rand, Cofounder and CEO of Rendever. “Over the years, we’ve seen incredible anecdotal evidence of the powerful effects of shared virtual reality experiences among the senior population. We’re honored to be awarded this grant, and eager to quantify these effects in the coming year.”
The NIA Small Business Programs manage the largest source of early-stage funding for aging-related research and development (R&D).
Each year, NIA provides more than $100 million in R&D grants to small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.