UT Nieuws Magazine November 2016

Page 32


UT scientists create a multisensory experience to use in hospitals


HELPS PATIENTS TO RECOVER Nature has been proven to facilitate patients’ recovery and to improve general well-being of people who spend a lot of time indoors. Yet not everyone has the opportunity to go into nature, so the question is: how do you provide access to nature if it simply is not around? Researchers from the University of Twente have decided to digitalize it.

‘You need the dynamic experience with nature’


T-based scientists Thomas van Rompay, Geke Ludden and Gijs Huisman are working on a Tech4People project titled Digitalizing Nature to Increase Resilience. ‘Research has shown that exposure to nature is particularly beneficial for patients in hospital settings, which is what our initial project will focus on,’ explains Thomas van Rompay. ‘The idea can, however, be applied to other domains. Nature exposure is helpful for everyone, including office workers, employees in factories or people in urban areas.’

Vision, sound and touch Nature’s positive influence on people’s well-being has already been proven. A study by Roger Ulrich from 1984, for instance, compared two groups of

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patients: one with a view of green scenery full of nature elements, the other with a view of a brick wall. The patients, who could look out their windows and see trees, recovered faster and used less medicine. The UT project builds on these findings. ‘We try to zoom in on specific features of nature that should do the trick,’ clarifies Geke Ludden. ‘We plan to use all possibilities of technology and create a multisensory experience for patients recovering in hospitals. We will combine vision, sound and even haptic features.’ One of the goals of the project is to create realistic nature projections, possibly in a form of a virtual window which allows the user to forget that the nature is only digital. ‘We also want to use subtle sounds and maybe even scents and imitations of wind. Everything has to be very subtle, though. People shouldn’t even be able to notice it. The digital