This Unreal Engine 4 Project Aims To Help Dementia Patients

By Eugene . March 23, 2014 . 2:00pm


Dementia is a serious ailment, and one that we currently don’t have a cure for. One way Alzheimer Australia Vic intends to help those suffering from the ailment is with a virtual living world created in the Unreal Engine, that they’re hoping people will help fund.



Dubbed The Forest Project, the project’s goal is to simulate a lifelike version of a forest for dementia patients to be able to interact with. They’ll do this on a nice and large 10 meter by 2 meter, motion-sensitive kinetic wall  with gesture-sensors and other interactive means—which has already been built.


Funding, then, is to make the project’s forest get better, such as through dynamic shifting of the seasons and other soothing but mentally stimulating situations for dementia patients to experience. They’re also hoping to make it accessible to aged care homes worldwide after getting it into every aged care facility in Australia.



If you’re wondering if the developers, Opaque Multimedia, can make this work, you should check out their first run through the Virtual Dementia Experience. It too was created using the Unreal Engine and is already emplaced at the Alzheimer Australia Vic Perc Walkley Dementia learning center. Future parts of The Forest Project will, if successful, see it expand the types of environments for patients to interact with in a safe space.


The Forest Project can be funded over at Pozible.

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  • revenent hell

    As someone who worked with dementia patients daily for ten years I do like the idea of this… BUT the colors are bland and I doubt most of the people afflicted with the disease would pay much attention to it as is.

    I think it would behoove them to try to make a more “colorful” world that grabs their attention because as is I don’t think such “blandness” will do what they intend for the people.

    People afflicted with Alzheimer’s/dementia don’t focus well, they need to snap at their attention. I don’t mean they should have an acid trip type game because I like the forest idea they just need to make it pop more with colorful life here and there. Like pink cherry blossoms falling from the tree’s or vibrant green fireflies ect…

    Yes there is color but it doesn’t…. Make me want to focus on it if ya’ know what I mean.

    • GH56734

      An artsy/stylized take on the colors and lightning to make it “pop out” would be nice to fulfill the purpose, instead of pursuing excessive realism.
      I also hear about an animation style (like the one used for Envy’s giant form in FMA:B) used for monsters/robots/abominations that’s done specifically to stand out for the human eye… maybe that could work?

      • revenent hell

        Yes ! Exactly this!
        Im glad someone got the idea of what I was talking about! :)

  • PreyMantis

    I don’t get it. Why can’t they just go to a real forest? Or why won’t the organization just make a small pseudo-forest or something? Can anyone explain why?

    • Pillbugable .

      Well, let’s consider those options along with the idea in the article:

      For the first one, they’ll need to fund these trips somehow, and there is no correlation to the locations of centers that treat dementia and the locations of pretty forests, so depending on the location, it would cost a boatload to give forest tours.

      With your second solution, that would mean putting a lot of money into a construction/renovation project that takes time, and can also be very noisy.

      So the options are: fund a tour service to park areas specifically for dementia patients where the cost varying wildly depending on how many patients there are and the location of a forest, pour a lot of money into a construction project that disrupts the quiet of things nearby, or buy/develop a computer program. Which do you think sounds more cost-effective?

      • PreyMantis

        Gotcha. Thanks!

    • revenent hell

      Most dementia patients get rather volatile when taken from their “comfort zone” .Most end up making the journey to the place a living hell on everyone including themselves because they become highly confused and agitated not to mention an actual forest would hold harms to the elderly by merely slipping on a tree branch or rock.

      Don’t get me wrong not all people with said disease are as prone to acting out as violently early on and while they may enjoy the trip to a forest I must reiterate here that most of the elderly in these types of cases have difficulty walking without a walker or wheelchair. Enjoying the forest wouldn’t be a very safe thing in actuality.

      Not to mention the funds it would take that the activities department doesn’t typically have. Most “caregiving” type places have an activities fund and would not be able to actually build such a thing.
      Making a pseudo forest would take more money than what most nursing facilities activities departments get.

      Even if this person did make one it wouldn’t be easily accessible to many others. This product is. It leaves the individual in their comfort zone while avoiding hazards that actually exist plus this thing has the ability to actually make it to people world wide whereas a pseudo forest couldn’t.

      • PreyMantis

        I see, those were good points. Thank you for explaning it to me.

        • revenent hell

          I worked in a Nursing and rehab center for ten years so I should have picked up something from the experience :)
          And your welcome. Though I did get kind of wordy there without meaning to.

          • PreyMantis

            It’s all good, and I appreciate it for the details.

  • Captain Levi


  • BaoZakeruga

    Always nice to see a genuinely good cause in the industry.

  • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

    That’s a really lovely idea.

  • revenent hell

    Normally I wouldn’t mind ignorant comments like this in most siliconera topics but I think this is a little more of a serious article and such comments are unneeded.

    People are trying to do good works for others who desperately need as much help as they can get and people like you mock that.


  • Kaien
  • revenent hell

    Joke or not its in poor taste and rude to the people trying to do something good for the world.

    Everyone will be old and suffer some form of ailment one day and I can only hope someone will care enough to try and help when the time comes.

    Those people shouldn’t be joked or made fun of they should be respected for the work they do in trying to make someone’s life who has been afflicted with this horrible disease better.

    I don’t really care if people comment “its all in fun” blah, blah, blah . I’ve seen what dementia does to people and I think this is a noble thing being done and should be treated in a serious light.

  • Atwa

    God you’re a downer. I wish more people were like George Carlin. A joke is harmless, a joke has nothing in mind but trying to put a smile on someone else’s face. Joking about something is not at all equal to making fun of something. I know very well the effects of dementia, my grandmother passed away last summer and had a severe case of Alzheimer’s disease. She never remembered me or my two brothers the last two years despite spending our entire childhoods together. She cried every time we visited her cause she realized that she should know us but didn’t remember.

    With that said, I don’t feel the slightest remorse joking about it. Its harmless and doesn’t need to be taken in any negative way unless you yourself want to do that. I rather people be happy than sit and be dour about something they can’t do anything about. What is the point in that?

  • revenent hell

    There is a time and place for everything. For such an article if you didn’t have any valid input about the subject, you really shouldn’t have bothered and I don’t care whether I am agreed with or not on this.

    Its one of the rarer serious toned articles I have read on siliconera and I think any decent person would take it as such.

    You also wont find another person who enjoys humor as much as I, since if it wasn’t for laughter I’d probably have offed myself long before now and that’s the God’s honest truth. I enjoy a good joke, I enjoy pranks even if I’m the target of them. I am a great lover of laughter. In my life you could either laugh or cry and I would rather laugh.

    That said your joke wasn’t funny in the least, had no meaningful impact on the article at hand and personally I think people need to think twice before they make comments like such.

    Someone out there is working hard for the betterment of someone’s life and people should take it seriously and know better than to be so tactless in the face of such a thing.

  • M’iau M’iaut

    @disqus_IBZHMwZbcI:disqus lets both end the off topic talk here. Thanks.

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