Virtual Reality and Assisted Living

Welcome to the ViRAL Research Group!

ViR.AL is an interdisciplinary research group within the School of Computer Science and Informatics at De Montfort University. This group combines strengths in interactive virtual environments, 3D-audio technologies, multi-modal interaction, game technologies and interfaces and intelligent systems, to research and develop innovative interactive solutions for assisted living and adaptive learning. Our current projects focus on the use of virtual environments, haptic devices, motion and positioning sensors and auditory displays, for the development of training applications and interfaces for individuals with sensory impairments.

Background

Improvements in public health have increased life expectancy and there has been a major increase in research in technologies for assisted living in recent years. These technologies are not only for elderly who may live on their own, but also for people with physical and sensory disabilities, or even for cases where attention to outside world (e.g. traffic) is reduced by distractions such as listening to music or writing a text message while walking. In UK, research in this field links into the Research Councils (RCUK) focus on healthy ageing, lifelong health and wellbeing, relating to maintaining cognitive function and enhanced mobility and independence in later life. According to the RCUK web site "Ageing research is a long standing priority area for the Research Councils".

Virtual environments and Game technologies

Virtual environments and game technologies have inspired many different areas of computer science and engineering from designing new ways of user interactions to providing affordable alternatives to simulate real world events and create realistic user experiences. Game technologies are used to collect a variety of data on movements, gestures and complex actions to create realistic and engaging training and simulation applications and are also used in innovative applications in HCI. These technologies are very relevant to research in assisted living at stages of collecting a wide variety of data, simulating the environment and producing intelligent responses.  Our activities in games research and development for the last 7 years have been instrumental in creating many exciting projects in game development, AI and games and serious games in DMU and have been recognised nationally and internationally through awards, publications and initiating and chairing conferences and activities.