Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C

This mobile game could end up helping the fight against dementia

By learning how people navigate, the game could help scientists develop new diagnostic tools and treatments for the disease.

SMARTPHONE GAMES ARE usually fun distractions at best but a new game has a more ambitious aim.

Sea Hero Quest is designed to help scientists in the fight against dementia. While it shares many similarities to other mobile games, its purpose is to understand how people navigate their surroundings. Loss of navigational skills is one of the first symptoms of dementia.

The game plays similarly to many free mobile offerings out there. You’re asked to memorise the contents of a map and sail to the end as quickly as possible. There are some extra features like requiring you to remember their general location so you can shoot a flare back to one and react quickly to obstacles.

Sea hero quest lifeisforsharingDT / YouTube lifeisforsharingDT / YouTube / YouTube

While someone is playing it, the anonymised data gathered from each playthrough is used to develop an understanding of how we respond to our environment.

The researchers claim that playing for two minutes generates the same amount of data that scientists would take five hours to collect in similar, lab-based research

This data is crowdsourced to help determine what is a normal level of spatial navigation and could eventually lead to the development of new diagnostic tools and treatments for the disease.

It’s estimated that more than 35,000 people in Ireland have dementia, a general term that covers a decline in a person’s mental ability.

One of the most common types of dementia would be Alzheimer’s Disease, which causes memory loss, and difficulty in performing everyday tasks. 

The game was developed by scientists at University College London, the University of East Anglia, Deutsche Telekom, and game developers Glitchers. The game is available to download on iOS and Android.

Sea Hero Quest Gameplay Compilation lifeisforsharingDT / YouTube lifeisforsharingDT / YouTube / YouTube

Read: The simple contact lens could be the next place for your camera >

Read: This rival app is benefiting from Brazil blocking WhatsApp (again) >