The Design Laboratory of the Institute of Applied Arts, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU), won the Media Ambition Tokyo Prize in the 2021 NEWVIEW AWARDS with Grandpa’s new old times: reminiscent of the past with haptics and VR, a virtual reality (VR) work that combines art design and geriatric treatment. The awards were competed by 152 artworks from 15 countries.
Grandpa’s new old times: reminiscent of the past with haptics and VR is an interdisciplinary co-creation between the design team and medical professionals. The idea was to create a metaverse for the elderly; it allows older adults to reminisce about their old times and find their own happy farm in a VR game. Apart from entertainment purposes, the game’s nostalgic scenes also benefit dementia treatment. Accordingly, the game can be of great interest in today’s aging society and, as a fulfillment of the spirit of technology, contribute to the wellbeing of older adults.
In their collaboration with the uAge Day Care Center of Taipei Veterans General Hospital on a preliminary study, the design team spent six months observing older adults’ behavior and the usage of rehabilitation equipment and discussed their observations with doctors and nurses. The team found that older adults’ mobility was limited by the space of their surrounding environment and COVID-19 movement restrictions, and decided to address the limitation by developing a VR game.
The design team led by Hsu Chun-cheng, the principal investigator of the VR development project and also a professor at NYCU Institute of Applied Arts, designed a handheld haptic modular package that can be connected to a VR controller to enhance the user’s sense of immersion. Unity was used to develop game scenes, and MAX/MSP was employed to connect Unity with the location and status signals of the haptic package. The handles vibrate to provide haptic feedback that enhances user immersion for a better user experience. The shape of the haptic package, its weight, and how the modules fit into one another were all meticulously designed to provide the user a haptic experience that matches with their vision. The team seeks to engage more older adults in the fun of games.
Older users were enrolled for game tests. When the older users fed chickens in the VR world, they were fully immersed in the high-fidelity simulated scenes, the sounds of animals around them, the hitting sound when they hit VR objects through the handheld haptic package, the vibration feedback when they shoveled, and the sensation of weight when they scooped the feed up, all of which provided a realistic user experience. The team has been making continuous efforts to optimize the game and add more scenes to the game for future target users.
According to the jury panel of the 2021 NEWVIEW AWARDS, the VR game, with its special devices, successfully enhances the sense of user immersion, goes beyond the framework of entertainment, and demonstrates the possibility of applying extended reality technology in the field of medicine and health care. The team’s collaboration with a medical institution also adds potential to the game.
In addition to its dedication to fostering talent in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, information, electrical engineering, and biomedicine, the NYCU has over 20 years of devotion to honing its expertise in technological arts and innovative design, hoping to nurture talent with interdisciplinary capabilities and an innovative mindset. Winning the Media Ambition Tokyo Prize in an international competition among excellent teams is evidence of success in NYCU’s interdisciplinary collaboration efforts.