Future Technology Analysis:
Virtual Reality

Photo by Andri Koolme  CC By 2.0

 Caring For a New Puppy is the title of my imagined future technology piece. It is an instructional work that teaches children how to care for a puppy named O.T., which is pronounced “oh-tee.”

The intended audience is children between the mental and/or functional ages of three to twelve who are receiving occupational therapy. It is a narrative infused with an agenda, which is to help developmentally delayed children learn basic life skills.

Movements and decisions required on the child’s part while moving through the story will help them learn to cross midline, balance, put on and tie shoes, dress, hold a pencil and feed themselves.  The story will also help children work on important executive functions including paying attention, following directions, reasoning, problem-solving and self-control.

The story will be of interest to its intended audience because children like puppies. Even if they can’t have a pet of their own at home, they will enjoy having a virtual dog. This story will put the child, who likely needs a lot of help in his/her life, in the role of a helper as they take care of their puppy.

Children enjoy new technology so they will be eager to experience the story.

Virtual Reality will be used to tell the story which will be “gamified” to hold children’s interest.  VR and “gamification” complement each other well and will maximize the benefit of the story.  This is the best way to present the narrative because children love video games.

This approach to storytelling assures that the young patients will be cooperative during therapy sessions. The new and unusual therapy method will be readily received by therapists looking for new ways to engage their patients.

I love the way these technologies can completely immerse the child in the story. The main character is the child. The conflict is lack of knowledge of how to care for a dog. The child will play the role of the protagonist, learning about caring for the puppy while moving through the story in mostly a linear fashion, with the exception of a few plot points where the child gets to choose what will happen next.

The game will reward children with stars on their virtual dog training chart when even the smallest goals are achieved, giving the child a sense of accomplishment. This will serve as the signal that the chapter has ended and it is time to end the game for the day. The story will be told in weekly increments and chapters can be repeated if the child needs more practice on a particular skill.

Using VR technology to tell this story will require a large amount of money and highly specialized skills. However, the project holds such promise as a tool to help children master basic life skills, it is well worth the investment. Since the story is being created to help special needs children, grants may help offset funds needed to create the story.

It should also be noted that although Caring for A New Puppy is designed for children, it could also have therapeutic use with adults who need to relearn life skills after a life altering event such as a stroke.  The adult patients may find it quite entertaining. After all, almost everyone loves a puppy!

Bonus Point Option

The idea of creating an online poll really piqued my interest yesterday so today I looked again at the Playbuzz website discussed in class.  Since I had some free time so I decided to give it a try.

The resulting product is a short Christmas poll.  It was surprising how easy it was to create and how quickly people began to respond.

Besides the potential to earn some extra credit points, the poll provided another bonus for me as another busy holiday season approaches.  I posted the poll on my Facebook page letting people know this was as close as I would get to sending out Christmas cards this year.

My friends seem to like the poll so this just might become a new holiday tradition!



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