Virtually old is new again

LiveVR founders Alam Bhuiyan and Dr Eugene Gvozdenko. 177210

By Casey Neill

A Keysborough duo is giving the elderly a new lease on life through virtual reality.
Alam Bhuiyan and Dr Eugene Gvozdenko founded Dandenong-based LiveVR in December 2016.
Dr Gvozdenko saw through volunteer work at aged care centre Chelsea Manor that there was an opportunity to do more good.
“People are active their whole life and then their body becomes fragile and they cannot move anymore and they are bound with their wheelchair and they are stuck there,” he said.
“They want an escape.”
The University of Melbourne researcher approached community-minded neighbour Mr Bhuiyan, who has a background in management in the manufacturing industry.
They were soon trialling the program at RusCare in Dandenong South.
“We did a lot of research before that. We attended seminars and high tech discussions,” Mr Bhuiyan said.
“During our trial period we found they not only enjoyed the entertainment, it was having a huge impact in their normal lives.
“The people who had dementia, we found it was triggering their long-term memories.
“People mumbling, when you put this on they’re looking around, they interact with it.
“This is giving them mental engagement and physical engagement.
“They start talking clearly.”
LiveVR can transport lapsed green thumbs into a garden environment and take former fishermen to lakes and oceans.
“This computer is the most powerful gaming computer you can get,” Dr Gvozdenko said.
“Only the past two years it is possible technically to provide this kind of experience.
“Now it is an experience when the person is completely engaged.
“You forget where you are.
“This is a disruptive technology. We are in the forefront of it.”
They take virtual reality goggles and hand-held controllers out to RusCare weekly and to Chelsea Manor roughly fortnightly.
“One third of those who tried it want to have it on and ongoing basis,” Dr Gvozdenko said.
They want to create a socially responsible business that is sustainable.
“We’re looking to transfer into a not-for-profit organisation,” Dr Gvozdenko said.
The pair are also looking to expand their reach across Victoria and, down the track, the country.
LiveVR received a City of Greater Dandenong Business Grant late last year.
“We’re looking for partners,” Mr Bhuiyan said.
“We’re also discussing with psychologists to take it and trial it.
“This is very exciting. It is beneficial to the community.
“This will create jobs.”
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Aged care residents test out the technology: