Deutsche Telekom launches online game to help Alzheimer's research

People walk past the logo of German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom AG seen at their headquarters in Bonn February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom has launched an online game that will help collect research data to fight Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, it said on Wednesday.

The company said its digital healthcare services arm had teamed up with university researchers and the Alzheimer’s Research Organizations to tap into the global gaming community, which spends an estimated 3 billion hours a week playing online.

“100,000 gamers can generate in two minutes data that would need more than 50 years of research,” Deutsche Telekom said in a statement.

“Sea Hero Quest”, which will be available on smartphones and tablets, follows the journey of an elderly former sea explorer, who has lost his memories.

Along the virtual quest, gamers will have to make decisions, and their answers and movements will yield anonymous data that can be used for research.

Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that by 2050 more than 130 million people will live with dementia, up from 46 million currently, according to its 2015 report.

“We know that first symptoms of dementia are loss of orientation even in familiar surroundings,” said Hilary Evans, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK. “This is a great opportunity to collect and share a valuable data pool.”

Deutsche Telekom will promote the game across its platforms in 13 European countries.

Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Mark Potter