A woman given a virtual reality headset experience for her 103rd birthday so she could go anywhere chose a walk – along a local cliff path.
Joyce Penfold donned the headset and treadmill combination which can transport people around the world or universe.
But Joyce decided on her 103 birthday there was nothing she’d like more than a stroll along a cliff – just near her care home.
Joyce was given the opportunity with help from the University of Plymouth’s ‘Generating Older Active Lives Digitally’ program.
Asked where she wanted to go in the world she chose Maker Heights in Cornwall near her retirement home.
Joyce said it was a “lovely” experience.
She said: “I found it very strange and different at first, but I’m glad I did it – I very much enjoyed it.
“The young women from the University of Plymouth were excellent, they made me very comfortable.
“Usually the only time I go out is when my daughter takes me out, and the furthest we go is just a few miles, for a coffee perhaps and a good old chat.
“The trips on the walker made a nice change but I don’t have any desire to go abroad just yet.”
Joyce was previously given the chance to try the ROVR, choosing to take a virtual trip to the seaside in Godrevy, Hayle.
There she saw a lighthouse and had a paddle in the sea.
She liked the technology so much the GOALD team gave her another go at her 103rd birthday party at Tresillian House in Falmouth.
That time she opted for the cliff walk.
The team at the University of Plymouth is attempting to study the effects of technology on the health and wellbeing of older people.
The headset works with an omni-directional treadmill which allows the user to move in any direction.
This gives users the chance to move around freely in a virtual environment as if they were actually there.
Joyce’s daughter, Maria Blagden, said: “I wasn’t totally surprised because she does embrace everything that’s new.
“I think she was over 70 when she took her first aeroplane flight, so nothing puts her off.”
Dr. Hannah Bradwell, Digital Health Research Fellow for UoP’s GOALD project, has been working in partnership with staff at Tresillian House.
She said: “We’re really interested in the use of technology to support physical activity for older adults, and for us this technology has a lot of potential in that regard.
“As people walk on the treadmill, they get to explore the virtual worlds, and having a range of places to be explored creates a motivation to be active.”