One person every three seconds is developing dementia globally, and according to The Global Impact of Dementia report, it will affect 135 million people worldwide by 2050. Experts agree that early detection of this disease is essential, which is where new free mobile app Sea Hero Quest comes in.
Launched on May 4, Sea Hero Quest sees gamers take on the role of the son of an explorer, navigating seas to find mysterious monsters and recapture your father's lost memories. As you make your way up the levels, you are anonymously providing data about how people navigate spaces, how they use landmarks, how they get lost and find their way again. This is vital to dementia research, as the disease is often characterised by difficulty understanding and navigating environments.
The game therefore creates a database of what navigation looks like for a sample on population level; this is unprecedented in dementia research. If 100,000 people play Sea Hero Quest for just two minutes, according to Alzheimer's Research UK, this would equate to more than 50 years of traditional lab-based dementia research. The largest spatial navigation study done previously had 599 participants and Hugo Spiers, a researcher from UCL involved in Sea Hero Quest, claims the game collects valuable data 150 times faster than traditional lab work.
Sea Hero Quest has both navigational levels and 'flare' levels. Navigational levels test players' ability to find their way from A to B, while 'flare' levels ask users to find their way back the way they came. And, just for fun, there's some sea creatures to battle along the way.
The data gathered by Sea Hero Quest has the potential to be used in the development of early diagnostic tests for dementia. The data has the best chance of setting a benchmark of 'normal' spatial navigation if as wide a range of people as possible play the game, so, why not download it today and contribute towards dementia research.
Sea Hero Quest was created by Deutsche Telekom, Alzheimer's Research UK, Glitchers, UCL and the University of East Anglia.