In October 2017 we scooped the Digital Innovation award at WireHive 100 for our Virtual Reality (VR) project with the National Trust.
We had already been experimenting with VR – interested particularly in its potential as a therapeutic application – so we jumped at the chance to work in this way.
The National Trust works hard to make sure their visitors’ experiences are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspiring enough that they want to support their cause. Breaking down any barriers to access to their sites for people with impairments had become a priority
Firstly, we needed to identify the specific barriers to access. We visited a care home for adults, speaking to residents with learning disabilities and dementia, and their carers, listening to their stories and understanding their needs and fears. They talked about the calming effect of walking in gardens, how it allowed memories to resurface and the lucid moments that followed, and how they loved the country houses and historic landmarks steeped in history.
The main issues they faced were:
- Ability to physically explore all terrains/floors or get wheelchairs into tight spaces
- Perception that the National Trust might not cater to their needs or interests
- The time available for carers to take them
- Getting to locations and the financial cost of travelling with a group
Creating a UX design solution that works
Working closely with the National Trust, we created a VR solution that emulated the experience of exploring a property in a realistic way, throwing open the doors of their properties to anyone, across the world, regardless of impairments.
We chose to use WebVR as our platform because it is easily discoverable online; there is no installation or software required outside the browser and it can be viewed on any device. Users get a 2D experience through mobile, tablet and desktop. A VR headset allows users a more immersive 3D 360 experience. Even without a low-cost Mobile VR viewer (like Google Cardboard) people would still be able to enjoy the experience on a big screen. Some of the people we spoke to were nervous about having things on their face or had trouble locating themselves in space without visual references, so this was important.
Nomensa has helped to make National Trust accessible to all, allowing us to create deeper connections with immersive digital experiences. We’re extremely proud of our project and for it to be recognised by WireHive as best in class is a testament to all the hard work put in by our team.
Head of Digital at National Trust
Bringing VR to life
We took the finished Web VR experience back to the care home for feedback. It created quite a buzz! They reported feelings of immersion, enrichment and relief from anxiety as they explored the nooks and crannies of Killerton.
The National Trust could now offer inclusive experiences, dissolving all barriers to their properties, widening their reach, raising their profile and forming deeper connections with their audience around the world. What’s more, this is a vital demonstration of the importance of embracing VR technology to improve the quality of lives for those living with impairments across the world.
Let’s work together
We believe that creating groundbreaking experiences that make measurable differences in the way people live takes a special type of collaboration. Our team designs impactful experiences by leaning on the variety of capabilities and expertise within Nomensa to ensure our solution is bespoke to your needs. We believe collaboration is key, let’s work together.