The virtual reality game Sea Hero Quest VR is designed to test the users for the signs of dementia and the goal is to find a new way of diagnosing the disease.
Scientists have started world`s biggest dementia research experiment that is assisted by a virtual reality computer game.
The virtual reality game named Sea Hero Quest VR is designed to test the users` ability to navigate, or one of the first signs of dementia. According to Alzheimer`s Research UK, the goal is to find a new way of diagnosing the disease, as reported by BBC.
Currently, there are 3 million players in the original smartphone app. While playing the game, users` sense of direction is being tested, allowing neuroscientists to collect their anonymous data. Later on, the scientists can assess the results in an effort to diagnose dementia at an early stage.
“That allows us to do a number of analyses that you would never be able to do with classical studies”, as Prof Christophe Hoelscher, chairman of cognitive science at ETH Zurich, told BBC.
Hoelscher added that this is the first research project that managed to collect such a large data sample of 3 million people.
However, it is expected that a smaller number of people will use the virtual reality update, since VR headsets are not as popular as smartphones. Still, scientists will reportedly be able to collect far more data than it would be possible in a laboratory.
The project is funded by Deutsche Telekom, a telecommunications company with about 156 million mobile customers. As Alzheimer`s Disease International stated, there is an estimated 46.8 million people suffering from dementia worldwide in 2015 and this number is believed to be close to 50 million people in 2017. Additionally, reseach shows that most people currently living with dementia have not received a formal diagnosis.
Games measuring navigation skills could help researchers manage to diagnose the disease at an earlier stage. As Dr David Reynolds, working at the Alzheimer`s Research UK, said before BBC:
“What we really want to be doing is identifying people with dementia 10 or 15 years earlier than we do at the moment.”