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Residents embrace sensational virtual world
of an African safari

February 21st, 2018

Residents of Points West Living Heritage House in Vegreville recently got to visit with giraffes and elephants, wallow in a rhino mud bath, and get licked by lions. All it took for them to get immersed in a sensational virtual experience was a headset, a gaming console, and a Virtual Reality (VR) program. 

Share the experience

When PWL Heritage House maintenance contractor Chris Elgie’s brother gave him PlayStation Virtual Reality bundle for Christmas, he knew he wanted to share the experience with his friends, “the girls and guys” at Heritage House. He sought out some gentle introductory content, and on February 15, he brought his gaming console and the VR system in. He hooked it up so that those not wearing the headset could watch what was happening on a big screen TV. Then he asked who wanted to give it a try.

"That's amazing!"

Lillian Hohn stepped up, and her response to five minutes of virtual Safari turned the tide. “A whole pile of residents had shown up,” says General Manager Alexis Bauer, “and once they saw Lillian try it, and take the headset off and say ‘That’s amazing!’, then they all tried it.”

Each resident chose which animal they wanted to experience, and each segment lasted three to five minutes. “When you’re in VR,” says Chris, “everything is to scale. You have to look up to the elephant. You can hear the sounds all around you. The residents were very excited, very responsive.”

She felt she could touch the animals

Shirley Ahern (in photo above), was so taken with the experience that when it was over she hugged Chris and said that she been on safari two times and had never seen it as close and nice as it was in virtual reality. “She said on the real safari she’d had to sit in a car with her hands in the vehicle and the windows closed,” says Alexis, “but here, she felt like she could touch the animals. She even said she’s going to tell her daughter she wants one of these systems for Christmas.”

Chris plans to bring his system in regularly so residents can continue to get out into the world and beyond. Alexis says if residents continue to enjoy a rich virtual experience she will budget for Heritage House to get its own system. “Stay tuned,” she says, “for the following weeks when residents fly in the sky like eagles, interact with dinosaurs, or fly to the moon!”

More on VR

If you’re new to VR and would like to learn more, check out this introduction to Virtual Reality webpage. 

Photo: Immersed in VR (virtual reality) Shirley Ahern reaches up to touch a lion in a Kenyan game park as fellow residents of PWL Heritage House in Vegreville look on.

More photos at Flickr: Residents embrace sensational virtual world of an African safari

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