Hector VR driving simulator wins two aged care awards

Deakin news
25 May 2020

There was double the cause for celebration for Deakin University Associate Professor Ben Horan and his CADET VR Lab team in March this year, when the virtual reality driving simulator for older drivers they helped develop picked up two national awards.

Associate Professor Horan, from Deakin’s School of Engineering, and his team worked with aged care provider McLean Care to develop the Hector VR driving simulator.

Hector VR was the overall winner at the Information and Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) 2020 Awards for Innovative Approaches and ICT Solutions and also won the ‘Best solution that provides ongoing consumer independence’ category. The awards were presented at the ITAC 2020 conference in Brisbane.

Hector VR is the first driving simulator we are aware of that aims specifically at supporting older drivers and we are very proud of that,’ Associate Professor Horan says.

‘Achieving this is a testament to a great partnership with McLean Care and the amazing things that can be achieved when university researchers and industry team up to work on projects like this.’

At the time of the awards, Sue Thomson, CEO McLean Care, was quoted as saying the awards were ‘… a tribute to the partnerships we have developed with Deakin University and our continued commitment to developing innovative rural and regional aged care services every day’.

Hector VR aims to provide drivers with important information to help them make an informed decision about their driving in a private, safe and non-intrusive environment.

‘You're actually sitting in a car, in this case a Holden Captiva,’ Associate Professor Horan explained in a 2018 media release about the project.

‘We cut that in half and then integrated all the technology inside it. So you've got the feel of the seats, your seatbelt, pedals, indicators, and we even put feedback into the steering wheel to give a real sensation of driving in different terrain. Then when you put the headset on you're driving around the local neighbourhood and you see local landmarks.

‘Of course this doesn't replace the need for an older driver to see their regular GP for accurate testing, but it can be a fun, easy and accessible way to check in initially.’

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