In computer science RAM is used to store and access data, on a short term basis. RAM is volatile, a temporary store of memory. Meaning when you turn off the computer and then back on, the data is gone....now imagine that memory process on a human. a healthy brain can store and access memories like a hard drive. Imagine your brain worked like RAM cards. Your memories are temporary, accessed at random, in any order and then disappear.

Inspiration

This project was inspired by our team’s personal experiences with family members living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Our goal is to promote empathy with a VR simulation of what it’s like to live with early to mid stage AD, which clinical studies show commonly starts with memory loss*. We hope to provide a way for patients and caregivers to prepare for and reflect upon the challenges of living with dementia, providing encouragement and promoting empathy.

What it does

This project combines two platforms, AR and VR, to allow you to experience memory loss simulations in your own personal way. The scene is centered around the kitchen, where we might commonly think of people struggling to complete daily tasks and interact in a household environment. As you walk through the space, you might inexplicably break a glass, an object might change in appearance, you might feel disoriented. While many of the simulations are based on the chaos and struggle that the disease causes in people's lives, we are using various forms of storytelling through family portraits and music to show that you can still live a full and joyful life.

How we built it

The fusion of two platforms, Unity and Rhino 3D, allows the experience to be viewed on mobile, HoloLens, and Oculus. Both use a free 3D kitchen asset kit from the Unity Asset Store and free 3D models of kitchen objects manipulated in Blender. We used sound samples from sound libraries processed and edited with Pro Tools.

Challenges we ran into

Designing for both AR and VR environments was a challenge to make as a unified experience.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • We are proud we could combine AR and VR for a more comprehensive experience that can be accessed on different platforms by more people.

  • This can be a valuable tool for people to experience what dementia might be like and be better prepared to provide support.

What we learned

There are huge possibilities with using VR in caregiving to shorten the distance between patients and caregivers

What's next for RAM - Randomly Accessed Memories

This tool can be further developed to accomplish our goals of providing cognitive behavior training for AD patients and caregivers.


Footnotes: 1 Jahn, Holger. “Memory loss in Alzheimer's disease.” Dialogues in clinical neuroscience vol. 15,4 (2013): 445-54. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2013.15.4/hjahn Memory loss in Alzheimer's disease - nih.gov

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