Memories of Camden inspire app which helps Alzheimer’s sufferers remember their youth

Dan Cole and the Wayback VR cofounders with Sir Geoff Hurst. Picture: The Wayback VR

Dan Cole and the Wayback VR cofounders with Sir Geoff Hurst. Picture: The Wayback VR - Credit: Archant

Inspired by the way returning to Camden helped his dad recapture elements of himself during a battle with Alzheimer’s, Dan Cole has helped launch an innovative and award-winning Virtual Reality (VR) tool to help others struggling with the disease.

A scene from the Wayback VR's 1966 film. Picture: The Wayback VR

A scene from the Wayback VR's 1966 film. Picture: The Wayback VR - Credit: Archant

Both of Dan’s parent’s grew up in the heart of Camden, and when his dad, who died six years ago, was ill, he took him for a drive. Travelling through streets like Inverness Street where his dad Terry grew up brought back memories, and since then Dan has been looking for ways of making that feeling available to more Alzheimer’s sufferers.

He said: “It was something I was so glad I had done. One of the real frustrations in that last year was that there’s nothing you can do. After that, I was looking for a way of capturing the feeling my dad had for others.”

READ MORE: Camden’s elderly paired with Guild Hall musicians for Zoom performancesThe Wayback VR was the result. Dan and the team have created short immersive films which transport a viewer back to a particular time in the past. At the minute, they have created films around the Queen’s 1953 coronation, and the 1966 football World Cup victory, but the plan is to rapidly expand the offering. The team has won the support of football legend Sir Geoff Hurst, and also won the Dementia Challenge UK award – which unlocked much-needed funding.

Dan added: “We are now looking for writers to work with us to make a similar film about Windrush, and we are having conversations with other communities too, to make sure there is something for everyone.”

An eager OAP tests out the Wayback VR film. Picture: The Wayback VR

An eager OAP tests out the Wayback VR film. Picture: The Wayback VR - Credit: Archant

The app is being made available in a number of care homes, and the team are working with charities to make sure it’s available to all who need it.

The Wayback VR is a subscription based phone app available on both Android and Apple, and users need a simple cardboard VR device to experience the effects.


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