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Bosch to Launch a VR Platform Designed to Offer Social Inclusion

Bosch, a multinational engineering and technology company, has today announced that it will launch a VR City Platform designed to support and empower individuals with special needs. Bosch and Microsoft have entered into a strategic alliance to provide the solution offering to more people faster, through the Microsoft marketplace in 2023.

The VR City Platform project is inspired by the need for more advanced immersive technologies by a Danish Municipality (Rødovre) designed to support and enhance the skillsets and confidence of persons with learning disabilities, anxiety and sheltered employment needs. Those who, for various reasons, find it difficult to engage in different contexts can, within a virtual universe that corresponds to certain aspects of the real world, learn to overcome the barriers that stand in their way.

Sune Sloth, Senior Consultant VR/AR from Rødovre, said: “Through the VR City Platform, we see the contours of a simulation universe tailored specifically for individuals with specific challenges that most people don’t know much about. The platform has the potential to give people greater freedom and confidence to actively engage in the real world, carry out everyday tasks and become a part of social settings with other people. Resulting in greater freedom and less loneliness long term.”

An example of this would be a person with anxiety enters into an ordinary social setting and learns how to stay focused whilst dealing with multiple people, noise distractions, loud colours, etc. For others, the focus may be to learn a skillset for future employment opportunities.

Research has shown that there is a positive correlation of VR therapy in managing conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Anxiety, Hypersensitivity and Hyperactiveness. VR therapy is also used more frequently in improving behavioural and cognitive skills for children and adolescents with learning disabilities. The way that VR can enhance the transference of skills or improve cognitive abilities stems from its unique ability to create a safe learning environment, one where the individual user can overcome specific barriers.

“After seeing my new school in the VR headset, it felt like I’d already been there, even if I hadn’t really been there. I could look around the school without worrying about others looking at me. With the VR version it gave me the courage to go through the front door there and later in real life. I have tried two times before in real life, before I tried the VR version, where I had to go home because of my anxiety,” said a user from Rødovre Job Centre who suffers from anxiety.

“People with disabilities should be given the possibility to participate equally in all areas of life. By proactively going in and supporting the development and growth of tools to handle the challenges that these individuals may have, we are making an active investment not only in their future but in the future of our society as a whole,” said Heidi Mills, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Bosch.

Individuals with special needs have a hard time with what others consider simple daily tasks: Going shopping on their own, maintaining a job, eating out or even placing themselves in a public or social setting. VR technology provides the ability to learn and practise these skills in a safe and secure environment, upon which a smooth transition into reality occurs, opening up a whole new world of opportunities for these persons.

Mills added: “At Bosch, we want to be a part of this journey to develop the tools needed to ensure that all citizens are given the opportunity to flourish and live life to the fullest without limitations – following our own philosophy of “invented for life”, we are excited to see what the future may bring in this domain.”

The announcement follows the launch of a VR bus ride in early 2022 from Bosch. It offers institutions and schools designed for students from all around the world to gain access to the daily life skill simulation of how to take public transportation. The simulation is customised to the specific bus routes and is designed to expose the students to real-world experiences gradually, without overwhelming them with multiple sensory inputs in the beginning. This enables a smooth transition from dependence to independence.

The VR bus ride is tailored for user groups with learning disabilities, such as ASD and ADHD. In 2023, this will be expanded to cater for user groups with Anxiety and from Sheltered Employment backgrounds as part of the VR City Platform.

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 402,600 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2021). The company generated sales of 78.7 billion euros in 2021. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT provider, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, Industry 4.0, and connected mobility. Bosch is pursuing a vision of mobility that is sustainable, safe, and exciting. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to facilitate connected living with products and solutions that either contain artificial intelligence (AI) or have been developed or manufactured with its help. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiary and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. With its more than 400 locations worldwide, the Bosch Group has been carbon neutral since the first quarter of 2020. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 128 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 76,100 associates in research and development, of which more than 38,000 are software engineers.

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