Moving ahead with VR technology - Folkhälsan

05 June 2018

Moving ahead with VR technology

“It’s wonderful to be able to hear the seagulls cry and see the beach and the sea,” says Carita Antell as she picks virtual mushrooms, berries and nuts on the new Gonio VR game.

“Just one more, wait a moment,” says Carita Antell, 94. “This a fun game – and it’s really good for my tummy muscles!”

Folkhälsan has worked in cooperation with Vertical and Danish startup Gonio VR to develop games for three different target groups in three of our homes: the Folkhälsan houses in Espoo (where Carita Antell lives), Brunakärr, and Östanlid. All parts of Folkhälsan have participated in the development of the games, and end users have also taken part in the work.

This is a way to find innovations that interest us and to develop them for our own purposes by involving experts from across the organization.

The games are played in a virtual world seen through VR glasses. Once the glasses are on you enter the gaming world and speakers around you provide a suitable audio environment. The games are designed to give appropriate challenges to those they are intended for: participants are encouraged in a playful way to perform movements that strengthen muscles, practise balance, or serve to maintain mobility according to their individual needs.

Development work is fun

Ebba Holmberg, 91, and Anita Lindroos, 76, in the Folkhälsan house in Brunakärr test the second prototype of the game.

“This was good,” says Anita Lindroos, “you can build different things. It’s been fun being involved in the development work.”

She has just built a virtual stool and a nesting box (the carriage can wait for another time) – after cutting down trees for wood. In the first prototype you could only build a bird box. Now the environment has developed and you can paint what you have built by dipping the parts into pots of colour.

“The game trains both strength and balance – I like it,” says Ebba Holmberg

Now was the right time for us to get involved in the development of digital innovations

One of those involved in developing the game at Brunakärr is Jenni Lönnroos.

“As an occupational therapist, I work with activities that provide support,” she says. “The most appealing thing for me about the games is that you can put in exactly what movements you want – the game has no limits.”

“As an observer, I am struck by the joy and the enthusiasm that the games instil and how much the players actually move. Chopping down trees and building things, picking berries and mushrooms, watching birds and hedgehogs in the woods, seeing the beach and the ocean and hearing the seagulls cry is meaningful and fun – even in a virtual world.”

"Even before we started working with Vertical and Gonio VR, we were using a lot of digital solutions at Folkhälsan," says administrative director Niklas Talling, who has taken part in the development work. “Now was the right time for us to get involved in the development of digital innovations, bringing in experts from throughout the organization across unit boundaries.”

Text and photo: Eva-Maria Nystén