Kars Otten, a PhD candidate at the University of Twente, and his colleagues have immersed themselves in the challenges of promoting social interaction amongst the elderly. Nature has been found to have a positive effect in this context. Together with Gerben Westerhof and Thomas van Rompay from the University of Twente, Debby Gerritsen from the Radboud UMC and Jan-Willem van ‘t Klooster from the BMS lab, he will investigate how digital nature can be used as a tool to enable storytelling. In this case, nature is used as a type of conversation starter. Thanks to an application developed together with the BMS lab and portable beamers, they can now bring elements of digital nature to any setting.
Research at the University of Twente on the positive effects of nature has looked at its ability to reduce loneliness before. Of specific interest are its ability to create a feeling of connectedness and nature’s ability to reduce feelings of loneliness. Storytelling, according to the researchers, is for older adults, to become and stay connected. Considering the aging population of The Netherlands, interventions that promote connectedness are called for. Nature can be beneficial in this respect and really help to connect people and to start conversations.
Bringing the elderly to nature can be a risky or impossible task. Therefore, the researchers worked with the BMS lab to create a software package called “Digital Nature” that enables researchers to create and bring natural scenes with them. These scenes can be adjusted to fit any type of experiment or context. It allows the researchers to study which aspects of natural scenes are effective and craft the most effective version. Portable equipment, like the BMS lab’s “Short throw beamer”, can then be used to present the natural scenes to the target audience.
Want to learn more about the Digital nature tool or this research? Then contact Kars. If you want to use the Digital nature tool or the beamers yourself for research, then you can contact the BMS lab.