Innovations tested at Zwarte Cross: greater understanding of dementia through VR and a festival experience around big data


The Zwarte Cross kicks off today as the largest paid music festival in the Netherlands and the largest motocross event in the world. Traditionally, there is much more to experience during this weekend than just music and motorbikes, and that is certainly the case this year. Festival visitors can contribute to the development of various innovations over the next few days. For example, by experiencing in virtual reality (VR) what it is like to have dementia or by participating in The Digital Data Divide - a festival experience around big data. These innovation tests are accompanied by Innofest.

Using virtual reality to experience what it is like to have dementia
It is expected that one in five Dutch people will eventually develop dementia. As people are living at home for longer and longer, the chances of encountering someone with dementia are increasing - whether in the supermarket, on the terrace, or at the hairdresser. Researchers from Avans University of Applied Sciences have developed a virtual reality test case where you can experience what it is like to have dementia in different situations. The dementia experience in VR has already been tested by informal carers and nursing students, among others, and now by the general public at the Zwarte Cross.

Cindy de Bot, associate lecturer of Prevention within Nursing Care at Avans University of Applied Sciences, is looking forward to the test days. "By letting people experience for themselves what it's like to have dementia and talk to each other about it, we hope to create more awareness and empathy. You want people with dementia to be able to participate in society for as long as possible. For that, it is important to have more knowledge about the disease and its symptoms in order to create a dementia-friendly society," says De Bot. In addition, the researchers are curious to what extent VR is a good tool to introduce people to a condition like dementia.

Developing The Digital Data Divide involved people with backgrounds in gaming, healthcare, research, ethics and education, among others. The initiator is Sjors Groeneveld, senior lecturer in Living Technology at Saxion University of Applied Sciences. "We developed this festival experience to explore in a playful and accessible way how to raise awareness about the increased role of data in our lives. This is much needed, because in addition to all the benefits, the massive collection of data can also have a downside, and there are questions surrounding ethics, privacy, and responsibility," Groeneveld said. The presence at Zwarte Cross allows the researchers to test the festival experience among a wide and diverse audience. "This way, we can see whether participants are made to think and whether the experience is a good tool to start the conversation about data."

All tests are supervised by Innofest and made possible by collaboration partners Regieorgaan SIA, Goeie Grutten, Avans University of Applied Sciences, and Saxion.


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