Rendever’s VR platform brings new experiences and fond memories to aging adults in nursing homes.
Written by Zach Winn
As Reed Hayes stood inside an assisted living facility in front of an elderly man struggling with dementia, he wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
The man sat slouched in his wheelchair, unmoving, his eyes barely open. Hayes had enrolled in MIT’s Sloan School of Management with the idea of helping older adults overcome depression and isolation through the immersive world of virtual reality. Now he needed to test his idea. Hayes turned on a virtual reality experience featuring a three-dimensional painting by Vincent Van Gogh and a classical piano playing in the background. Nervously, he placed the headset on the man. What happened next stunned everyone in the room.
“He just came alive,” Hayes remembers. “He started moving around, tapping his feet, laughing. He was all of a sudden much more engaged in the world, and this from someone who was slouched over, to now kind of bouncing around. [My classmate] Dennis and I looked at each other like, ‘Holy cow, we might be onto something.’ It was remarkable.”