Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty on Digital Media & Creative Industries


Promoting connectedness through virtual natural areas


Digital nature can contribute to feelings of belonging for frail elderly people and can thus combat social isolation and loneliness. However, the preferences for specific nature scenes are very context-dependent. You can think of both the physical context (for example, a distinction between public space and private space) and mobility problems that determine the extent to which specific needs (for example, the need for a safe, predictable environment) come to the fore.

The aim of this research is therefore to integrate the knowledge gained from the project 'Growing Roots' into a working prototype within which the autonomy of the user (and related needs) can be guaranteed by variation in scenes and explicit choices regarding type of environment and navigation options.

This research project will lead to a working ‘proof of concept’ that is not only suitable for evaluation in the intended context with the intended target group (vulnerable elderly in the care centre), but which can also be translated into the home context. With this we want to meet the increasingly urgent demand for interventions that support care in one’s own living environment.

There are many opportunities for sustainability: in addition to the primary goal (combating loneliness by creating feelings of belonging), we also see many additional benefits such as creating opportunities to relax (and additional relief for healthcare staff) , the facilitation of ‘watching together’ (where nature serves as a ‘conversation starter’ instead of care staff who have to make a lot of effort to get social interactions going), and the creation of aesthetic pleasure (another important need that the difficulty of visiting museums and the like is also compromised).

It is therefore important to provide the prototype with an open character, so that we can also show existing art (such as landscapes by old masters or modern variants by David Hockney) or webcam feeds of natural pearls.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research FDMCI 6 March 2023

Project Info

Start date 01 Nov 2022
End date 01 Aug 2023