How the Metaverse Can Transform Lives of the Elderly
With the incredible speed of advances in technology, there has been an ever-widening gap between generations. Even in the same older generation, there is a split - tech-savvy seniors who have mastered the usage of smartphones, social media, and online shopping, and seniors who have been left behind. A common notion among the senior community is "I think I'm too old," spoken by one of the cast starring in the documentary Cyber-Seniors playing on Prime Video.
In reality, seniors can open a world of new possibilities for themselves by using cutting-edge technology. They are poised to benefit even more from technology like the metaverse than perhaps anyone else. Virtual vacations, socializing, reconnecting with family, visiting familiar places, and staying active are all possible through this emerging technology.
What is the Metaverse?
There are many complex and lengthy explanations describing the metaverse, and maybe that's the first issue preventing seniors from knowing about it. The metaverse will be a shared place where people from all over the world would speak and interact. You will need to wear a special headset that allows you to feel like you're inside this shared space. With a Meta Quest or other headset, the virtual world of the metaverse will be all around you. Unlike traditional television, where the image is confined to a static screen, virtual reality will allow you to look in any direction offering a much more immersive experience.
The metaverse can offer many different adventures and can act like a central hub from which you can set off. Wish to travel to a faraway destination without leaving the living room? Want to get the heart rate going with some light exercising that feels more like a game? Perhaps you'd like to gather with your family members who are out of state and can't afford to travel? There are so many possibilities within the metaverse. After all, seniors face unique challenges that make certain activities difficult and sometimes impossible in real life.
Does the Metaverse exist today?
The metaverse, as envisioned by experts and businesses, does not exist in that form today. However, there are proto-metaverse applications such as the games Fortnite, Roblox and Second Life. These include a world where you can interact with other users and the environment through a digital avatar of yourself. NFTs and cryptocurrency are also said to be a component of the metaverse. Companies such as Meta (formerly Facebook) and Microsoft have mentioned that they are invested heavily in research and development on the metaverse.
Problems Faced by Seniors and How the Metaverse Can Solve Them
One of the most significant challenges seniors face is mobility. Depending on your health, family history, and susceptibility to injury, getting around can be a real challenge.
So, with reduced mobility and additional care required, how can all seniors still experience the world? How can you see destinations from around the globe when travel isn't an option? How can you make new friends, socialize, and visit family without leaving home?
Mobility and travel
One of the most significant experiences offered by the metaverse will be virtual travel. Skip packing the luggage, taking the flight, and booking the hotel; set off on a virtual trip instead. Sitting on your living room couch, you will be able to experience incredible sights and sounds from around the world. Not only will you see what these places look like, but you would also be able to participate in once-in-a-lifetime activities or experiences.
Have you always wanted to visit Valencia, Spain, for example? You will be able to take virtual tours, see historic architecture, and walk along the historic streets of this European destination. While some of these places might be physically out of reach, you would still feel like you're there with the metaverse, and no mobility issues would prevent you from participating in the fun.
Communication with Loved Ones
Another significant benefit in the metaverse for seniors is staying connected with family. It's not uncommon for families to be spread out across the country and traveling for a visit isn't always possible. Fortunately, with metaverse, you will be able to visit and interact with distant family members like never before.
Imagine selecting a virtual meeting place like a park, café, or family room and inviting your loved ones to join you. You can see, hear, and engage with them, almost like they're present in the room alongside you. The metaverse will help bring people closer together with more meaningful interaction than you could get with a phone call or video chat.
Another great use of the metaverse involves staying active with exciting and interactive fitness experiences. Working out isn't something most people desire to do, senior or otherwise. But it's vital to staying healthy and prolonging life. But how can exercise become more interesting?
With the metaverse, you will be able to take part in virtual activities and combine basic home exercise equipment. For example, if you have a stationary bicycle, you could pedal while wearing a VR helmet and experience fantasy or real-world destinations. No more staring at the wall or television, instead, pedal through the Italian Alps or the sun-soaked coastline of Hawaii. A stationary bike is just one example, as you can do various exercises using treadmills, rowing machines, or basic body movements.
Unfortunately, many seniors spend too much time alone and can feel isolated as a result. For a community to be built, everyone should feel welcomed and included. With metaverse, senior communities will be able to plan social gatherings, events, and more.
This virtual environment is also less intimidating to those who shy away from lots of people, as their level of engagement is entirely up to them. Virtual spaces can function as casual conversation rooms and others around some activity or game.
Technology has advanced so quickly that it risks leaving large populations like seniors behind. However, with virtual reality and the metaverse, seniors can benefit immensely from the possibilities of this technology. With unique challenges such as mobility and loss of independence, many seniors find travel, socializing, visiting family, and exercise difficult at best.
With the metaverse, these valuable members of society will be able to engage with the world from the comfort and safety of their living rooms.