Depending on where you are in the XR space, “VR headsets” and “elderly” may or may not go together.
Sure, we don’t think of our grandparents playing Beat Saber. However, the elderly often struggle with social isolation as well as limited mobility. As a result, some elder-care facilities have used VR headsets as a way to help their home-bound residents.
With social isolation an even greater problem during the coronavirus pandemic, three companies have partnered together to distribute VR headsets to elder-care facilities.
Donating VR Headset and Content to the Elderly
MyndVR is an organization pioneering the use of VR and VR headsets in senior living communities. Earlier this week, they announced a partnership with VR company Pico and VR streaming service Littlstar.
Together, the three companies have pledged to donate VR headsets, training, support, and content to senior living communities in all 50 states.
“We are so grateful to Pico Interactive and Littlstar for teaming up with us to donate this amazing, life-enriching program to seniors in care communities across the country,” MyndVR CEO Chris Brickler said in a press release. “It’s important that the AR/VR industry steps up in this isolation crisis, and we plan to deliver MyndVR to communities in need in all 50 states.”
Application, Donation, and Logistics
Despite the apparent generosity of these organizations, they don’t drive around throwing the headsets out of the car windows. There’s an application process, although it’s pretty simple.
Senior living communities just need to provide contact information and a brief note about themselves and their residents’ needs. On that same page, there’s a “donate” option for organizations and individuals looking to support the drive.
You might be a little concerned that every facility can only receive one headset. After all, doesn’t that mean that everyone has to share? That sounds a little unsanitary. However, part of the support that is included involves instructions on how to safely sanitize the headsets.
Meet the Partners
MyndVR has been around for at least four years. They don’t only work on making VR available to seniors. They also work with a large advisory panel to contribute to research on how VR can help seniors through things like memory care.
Littlstar is a streaming service that works with conventional media. However, they’ve recently branded themselves for VR content. The app helps users manage and organize their existing content as well as locate, purchase, and stream new content.
Pico isn’t a huge name in VR right now, which is unfortunate. Their Goblin headset (no longer available new) was possibly the original stand-alone VR headset, coming out years before Oculus Quest. They admittedly slipped under our radar for a while but recently surprised by rolling out a piece of serious kit.