Woman Helps Old Age Residents 'Explore' World With Goggle Headsets

Virtual reality goggle headsets bring virtual-reality experiences to older men and women


FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA: Jim Halsey, 83, has traveled to Japan and South Korea, through Europe and Central America. One recent day, he squatted in a narrow, wooden boat and watched as an elephant trudged through a swamp in Botswana.

Halsey, who was an intellectual-property lawyer before he retired, didn’t have to leave his wheelchair at Powhatan Nursing Home in Falls Church to make the trip. He and several other residents at the retirement facility strapped on virtual-reality goggles and journeyed to the country in southern Africa, as well as to Antarctica.

Carleigh Berryman, 22, zigzagged between wheelchairs to fit virtual-reality goggle headsets on the residents of the retirement home. Her company, Viva Vita, is designed to bring virtual-reality experiences to older men and women who can no longer travel.

“It’s exciting. It’s different,” Halsey said about his virtual tour through Botswana. He described orangutans and tigers that appeared in the bulky set of goggles on his face.

Berryman created Viva Vita while still a student at George Washington University. She secured $5,000 in seed money from the school’s New Venture Competition for budding entrepreneurs.

Berryman entered the competition as a senior – advancing through several rounds while studying for exams and preparing for graduation – and won the runner-up cash prize in April. The money has helped pay for equipment and cover costs associated with registering the company.