Edinburgh entrepreneur makes use of digital actuality so care dwelling residents can journey the world
A budding entrepreneur from Edinburgh is launching a new virtual reality social enterprise product in care homes across Scotland to help their residents stay fit and see the world.
Rojan Subramani, 32, grew up in a foster family in India before moving to Dubai and eventually Edinburgh, where he studied an HND to become a chef.
After working in upscale restaurants such as Prestonfield, the entrepreneur decided to study business administration in Edinburgh Napier.
Here he became Student President and after graduation began creating a business plan for his social enterprise DigiTechtive.
In 2019, he started organizing pop-up virtual reality (VR) events in shopping and community centers, giving people who can’t afford VR the chance to try the technology at an affordable price.
In addition to this work, Rojan used VR technology to “support young homeless people, disadvantaged youth and young refugees by engaging with digital technologies and offering coaching so that they can acquire new skills.”
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However, when the pandemic broke out, he noted that a number of elderly people felt trapped in nursing homes and were unable to travel or maintain adequate levels of fitness.
At that time, the Loyds Bank Entrepreneurship Program winner decided to adapt its business model to offer a new affordable service to the elderly.
He said, “I grew up in foster families and have been fortunate enough to have received help from various people and community organizations throughout my life, so I understand the importance of helping the most vulnerable societies.
“In the past, we have taught young people from disadvantaged backgrounds how to use technology and helped them find a job. But when I saw the news during the pandemic, I realized that so many elderly people were trapped in nursing homes with little exercise.
“That’s when I decided that our VR social enterprise is perfect for nursing home residents. So I contacted a company in the US and worked with them to get the perfect product for our new customers and what we could offer in 12 different locations with over 40 different training routes. Some of our customers really enjoyed cycling the streets of San Francisco and Paris.
“DigiTechtive’s goal is to provide nursing home residents with a fun experience to help relieve the stress caused by isolation. Residents are immersed in a virtual world where they can experience places they have always wanted to visit and / or revisit places they enjoyed in their early years. Nursing home residents can comfortably and safely explore a virtual representation of the real world from their favorite armchair with an exercise bike. This virtual reality (VR) combines fitness with exploration to make it a fun and engaging experience.
“The quarantine has brought with it many challenges that have had a profound impact on the financial, physical, psychological and emotional health of the elderly. And for the past 30 years, researchers have found that regular participation in physical activity has positive effects on the health and well-being of older adults.
“The four most common poor health conditions in older adults are decreased motor skills, increased obesity, impaired cognition, and mental disorders. The prevalence of obesity in older adults not only increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it also increases the risk of becoming disabled and remaining physically impaired.
“Older adults with cognitive impairments fall twice as often. Depression, anxiety disorder, and dementia are the most common mental health problems in the elderly. It is important to develop and implement effective intervention strategies that can prevent or reverse these negative health outcomes in order to improve the quality of life for older adults.
“VR training is a novel and innovative technology that allows individuals to immerse themselves in a computer-generated, multi-sensory, three-dimensional world in which they interact with the virtual environment using a headset and training equipment. VR has been shown to be effective in promoting physical activity, which has resulted in several health benefits. “
Rojan hopes VR will be a new innovative technology that can make the lives of older people desperate.
To explore the Granton-based company’s product, please visit their website here.