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Tinker VR is an attempt to bring to life an experience of what it might be like to gradually lose a loved one to Alzheimer’s.

The participant experiences the life of a granddaughter or grandson inside a live animated world.

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The participant enters a rich, detailed environment full of objects they can interact with as well as one other character. 

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That character is not driven by artificial intelligence, but is actually a live performer in motion and facial capture that reacts moment to moment in real time based on what the participant does and says.

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As the grandchild the participant grows up during the experience and as a result they have progressively more agency in their interactions with the environment, objects and the other character in the world. 

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At the same time as the grandchild ages, grow ups, and become older the grandfather does as well. But the character of the grandfather has progressively less agency over time as they experience the onset of Alzheimer’s which affects how well they can function in the world.

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Randy Dixon who has worked nationally and internationally as an improvisational theatre artist for over 30 years has been cast in the role of the grandfather. Randy has worked with emerging technologies throughout his career. On this production we will use real time motion and facial capture. Randy's posture, gestures, and facial expressions will become the basis for the animations of the character of the grandfather. In the past motion and facial capture has been prerecorded, but with recent developments it is now possible to stream data in real time and full fidelity. 

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Several of the contributors on the project have been personally affected by Alzheimers disease. Lou Ward Founder and Creative Director of Tinker is one of those team members. Lou’s grandfather Wayne Ward began exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimers in his later years. As the years passed he gradually lost touch with his surroundings and then later his family. Wayne had trouble telling the difference between what was real and imagined, and began to forget family member after family member until he could only remember his wife Janice.

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