McLean Care and Deakin University introduce virtual reality to retirement villages

Brave new world: Peter George gets taken through a virtual training simulation by Deakin University associate professor Ben Horan on Wednesday. Photo: Peter Hardin
Brave new world: Peter George gets taken through a virtual training simulation by Deakin University associate professor Ben Horan on Wednesday. Photo: Peter Hardin

Three virtual reality scenarios have been touring the region this week as retirees at McLean Care villages were introduced to the world of virtual reality.

Deakin University have teamed up with McLean Care to implement the very first driving simulator in the country, which will eventually be permanently based in Inverell.

On Tuesday and wednesday the teams were in Inverell and Tamworth respectively, and while the driving simulator is still having the finishing touches added, the team were introducing residents to the technology with a scuba diving experience, as well as spray painting and midwife training systems.

The end result will see a full car installed in Inverell where residents will be able to practice driving in a virtual carbon copy of Inverell, which will not only measure their driving abilities but also monitor things like anxiety and confidence, according to McLean Care CEO Sue Thomson.

“For older people a driver’s license is a symbol of freedom and independence,” she said.

Through the looking glass: Don Guyer could barely believe his own eyes after experiencing the virtual reality scuba dive on Wednesday. Photo: Peter Hardin

Through the looking glass: Don Guyer could barely believe his own eyes after experiencing the virtual reality scuba dive on Wednesday. Photo: Peter Hardin

“The driving simulator will allow them to practice and make their own decisions.” 

Mrs Thomson also said that the idea that the older generations aren’t interested or won’t connect with new technologies as “as an absolute myth”.

“They love engaging with the technology and have really embraced it,” she said.

“We believe we have a really valuable product here that could eventually be used across a huge variety of applications.”