New mobile game to speed up dementia research

A group of researchers studying dementia have developed a mobile game titled Sea Hero Quest which tests spatial navigation skills of players.

The new game could aid in developing early diagnostic tests for dementia.

(Image Credit: lifeisforsharingDT)

In Sea Hero Quest, players act as sailors who have to navigate 3D environments and fight sea creatures. Global "heat maps" can be generated from the routes that players take, giving researchers useful data on how people usually explore 3D environments.

According to the dementia researchers, spatial navigation is one of the first skills that fails among those affected by the mental disorder.

The researchers from the University College of London (UCL) are amazed at the speed by which they can gather data using the mobile game. They say it is 150 times faster than lab-based experiments.

BBC quoted Dr. Hugo Spiers of UCL as saying, "In my research team, I could only test about 200 people a year, and that's working hard...But last night I tested 200 people in one minute with this game."

Dr. Spiers noted that the project allows them to study how thousands of people from different countries and cultures navigate space.

Results from the study will be out in November.

The mobile game was developed by researchers from University College London and University of East Anglia, game designer Glitchers and with the support of Deutsche Telekom.

If you want to participate in this unprecedented study, download Sea Hero Quest from Google Play or from the App Store. You will have the option to reveal your age, gender, and location or just play the game anonymously.

Playing the game for just two minutes will yield data equivalent to 5 hours of traditional research.

Contribute your time to dementia research. Be a participant in creating what they describe as "the world's largest crowd sourced data set benchmarking human spatial navigation".
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