See the world without leaving your home
Photo used with permission from Microsoft
by Agnes Chung
Imagine exploring the ancient ruins of Rome, scaling the Rockies or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef – from your living room.
Sitting quietly in his wheelchair watching sparrows hopping gingerly among the maple tree branches, care home resident Roger perked up when asked about his dream vacation. “I’ll like to take a long Mediterranean cruise with my girlfriend,” he says, flashing a big smile as memories of his global sojourns raced through his head.
“Name me a country, and I will tell you the capital,” he quips, leaning over with ears perked, ready for a game. “Ethiopia,” I said! “Addis Abba,” he exclaimed. “Hungary,” I asked. Immediately he retorted, “Budapest.” Our bantering went on for some time. A well-travelled man whose knowledge of the world lay at his fingertips, Roger had hopes to travel again, but his frail health held him back. Not anymore!
Technology changing travel experience
Emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) have opened a whole new dimension in experiencing travel. These digital realities enable consumers to immerse themselves in a multi-sensory engaging experience with their favourite adventures and destinations without leaving their home.
In AR, images from your television or computer screen are transposed into the physical world, creating a simulated environment. VR mimics your physical presence and enables you to visualize and feel in a three-dimensional, 360-degree simulated environment as a first-person experience.
VR devices such as Oculus Rift, Google Daydream View, Sony PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR Headset allow you to see places, experience services and adventures at all levels: destinations, hotels, cruise ships, parks, kayaking, skydiving and so forth. You can be exploring the streets of Vancouver – and within a minute, switch to animal watching on an African safari or take a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon.
VR can be accessed using mobile VR on smartphones – and tethered VR linked to high-end computers or video game systems. Many other industries including educational institutions and real estate companies are tapping VR technology for educational and marketing purposes.
The technology is transforming healthcare for aging dementia patients. In 2016, ImmersiveCare, a Tribemix developed VR system was put to the test on dementia patients in a Sussex care home in south east England. The result showed dramatic stress and anxiety reduction not only in dementia patients but the health care team too.
For food lovers, Project Nourished offers the virtual experience of dining on delicious dishes with no calories while maintaining taste, smell and touch. This could potentially be a solution that curb food craving disorders.
MR is a hybrid of AR and VR with added technologies, bundled as a single device enabling you to overlay augmented holographic digital content into real-time space, creating realistic settings, such as Microsoft’s Hololens.
Microsoft’s Hololens: Holotour App
Hololens, the futuristic head-mounted holographic computer allows you to see, hear, and interact with holograms within a normal space. It uses high-definition lenses and 3-D sound technology to produce an immersive, interactive holographic experience.
Holotour, one of several Hololens apps seamlessly integrates digital objects into your physical world making them appear real. No more battling jet lag, hauling luggage through security or elbowing crowds to appreciate iconic attractions with the Microsoft Holotour App.
Digital realities enable people to travel the world in a whole new way – while inspiring travellers to discover new destinations and consider places not on their bucket list. It’s a great planning tool for an immersive experience of a holiday destination prior to taking a trip.
For limited mobility individuals like Roger, these innovative technologies provide access to relive their travel experiences without being on location physically. It’s a wonderful entertainment choice for retirement home residents who were once avid travellers.