For the last couple of years, Rendever has sought to improve the lives of those in elder-care communities through VR experiences. With the help of Rendever, hundreds of thousands of residents of elder-care facilities have spatially engaged with loved ones, relived personal memories, and explored new places.
The company recently announced an addition to the platform that will help management and families understand care facilities. This comes at a time when in-person visits to elder-care facilities remain difficult due to coronavirus restrictions.
However, the company has been around longer than coronavirus, and social isolation for the elderly is not a problem that will go away when stay-in-place orders lift.
“I met up with a couple of people who are similarly passionate (…) and we started digging into the data, and the data is really alarming,” Rendever co-founder and CEO, Kyle Rand, said in a video interview with ARPost.
Kyle Rand and Rendever
Rand has spent much of his life thinking about senior care. When he was a younger man, he volunteered in senior care communities. When he was an undergraduate in college, he studied cognitive decline in older adults. He was also very impacted by personal experiences with family entering these communities.
All of these experiences have convinced him that social isolation doesn’t have to be a part of growing older and that VR can help to change this perception. By connecting residents of these facilities with their families as well as with locations and activities that they could never experience otherwise, VR experiences can help to increase seniors’ quality of life.
Rendever is still involved in studying VR and the impact that it has on the emotional wellness and mental fitness of its users. According to research conducted by Rendever and its partners, after two weeks of daily group VR sessions residents of senior care facilities experienced decreased depression and increased social health.
“With a good group VR session, the magic really starts to happen the moment that the headset is taken off,” said Rand. “The foundation of human connection is shared positive experiences.”
The Evolution of Rendever
Rendever has also come a long way in the last four years. The content was initially available through conventional VR user interfaces. However, staff and residents at senior care facilities found these interfaces unfamiliar. As a result, the VR experiences are navigable through more user-friendly touch screens.
The hardware that Rendever uses to offer VR experiences has also gone through some changes. It was initially offered through Samsung Gear, and then Oculus Go. With the recent discontinuation of Go, Rendever is switching to Pico, finding 3-DoF hardware to be the best for their needs.
Rendever’s original goal and continuing mission was to bring VR experiences to residents of senior care facilities. To accomplish this, Rendever works with content providers and aggregators, creates its own immersive media, and creates partnerships to produce specialty content.
One such partnership with the City of Boston Massachusetts allowed residents of senior care facilities to virtually attend the2019 Patriots Super Bowl parade.
Of course, as Rand put it in our interview, “a significant part [of emotional wellness] is also maintaining existing social connections.” As a result, Rendever introduced a Family Portal, where the family members of a senior community resident can upload immersive videos of family events like parties and reunions.
A separate side of the platform, Rendever Live, showcases group sessions led by Rendever’s in-house experts. Rendever is currently in talks with cultural institutions around the country to expand the VR experiences available.
“VR and what VR is capable of first and foremost is delivering that high quality of life (…) through delivering high quality experiences,” said Rand.
Recently, Rendever launched a new side of their platform called EnvisionHome. Rather than assisting residents directly, it uses VR experiences to help administrators give virtual tours of their facilities while family members of potential residents are unable to visit in person.
“Without knowing what the environment looks like or feels like, it can be a difficult decision for loved ones. Coronavirus has added a layer of complexity because families are not currently able to visit these centers themselves,” Empath Health CEO, Rafael Sciullo, said in a recent press release. “There is no question that this technology is a smart investment for our team.”
Facilities using the solution receive help from Rendever to create immersive tours of their facilities that showcase the facility without compromising the privacy of residents. Administrators can then see where visitors are in the VR experience and where they are looking in real time so that they can offer remote assistance and answer questions.
Further, because the two solutions use the same hardware and software platform, facilities that offer one solution can offer the other without purchasing additional headsets.
Rand sees the new offering as an exploration of one more of the many ways that VR technology can improve senior care.
Bringing VR Experiences to Senior Care
Rendever has been around for a while now. However, their plan to continue working between the ends of their end-to-end solution certainly has our attention.
From VR experiences for residents to using the technology to help administrators, we plan to keep an eye on Rendever in the future.