VR opera experience ready for national rollout

A Melbourne-based technology start-up is ready to roll out its virtual reality streaming platform nationally following the success of remote delivery of live opera to a New South Wales aged care home.

A Melbourne-based technology start-up is ready to roll out its virtual reality streaming platform nationally following the success of remote delivery of live opera to a New South Wales aged care home.

Inverse piloted a remotely activated and fully immersive virtual reality opera experience for 10 residents at Ashfield Baptist Homes in Sydney’s inner west in early March via its 3D VR streaming platform.  

It follows a successful in-person pilot and first-run of the technology with eight aged residents at Ryman Healthcare’s Nellie Melba Retirement Village in Victoria in December (read our story here).

Darren Vukasinovic

Inverse founder and CEO Darren Vukasinovic said the trial at ABH was a “resounding success”.

“The trial went extraordinarily well. A couple of hours of training and they felt competent, and they only got the equipment the day before. They ran the trials the following day and the results were fantastic,” Mr Vukasinovic told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“We’re now investing in self-service kits and getting it down to a formula where if a residency wants to run an activation for its residents, they can reach out to us and we’ll have a ready-to-go kit that can be sent with a little bit of a 101 self-usage guide, along with a little bit of support from us remotely, to enable them to really run the experiences,” he said.

The trial at Ashfield Baptist Homes involved 10 residents.

Residents ‘thrilled’

ABH executive care manager Barry Cowling called the trial a great success.

“With the support from the Inverse team we were able to navigate some initial technical challenges during a tech run with staff so that the resident experience was relatively smooth,” Mr Cowling told AAA.

“There were some adjustments necessary after the residents initially donned their headsets but soon after they were totally engaged with the performance, following the action, reacting to music by tapping their feet, moving their bodies and applauding each aria,” Mr Cowling said.

The experience has brought the outside world into the facility for residents to enjoy, he said.

“[We received only positive] reactions such as “how wonderful” and “thrilling”. Watching the residents clap, laugh and move to the music and follow the on-stage action was awesome.”

Mr Cowling said the home is planning to use the platform to offer other experiences to residents.

ABH Baptist Homes staff and residents share their feedback on the VR experience in the following video:

DIY kits available

The kits for aged care homes come with five, 10 or 20 headsets controlled by a tablet. It takes about five to 10 minutes to set up and doesn’t require any connection into a home’s IT infrastructure or the Internet, Mr Vukasinovic said.

“Everything’s contained within the activation kit. We look for somebody to be a technical lead and a carer lead, which are important. We work with both of those people and we teach them how to run it,” he said.

“The carer or the technical operator will just click a button on the tablet, and they can choose what the residents are going to watch, so it’s very much like running a cinema,” Mr Vukasinovic said.

“We’re championing the idea that you run this as an event so the residents gather and they all watch it together. This has to be a social experience.”

Inverse is also exploring other events for the platform including visits to an aviation museum and contemporary music, he said.

Main image: Ashfield Baptist Homes residents trialling the VR opera.

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Tags: ashfield baptist homes, barry cowling, darren vukasinovic, inverse, national rollout, opera, ryman healthcare, virtual reality, vr,

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