We’re only just dipping a toe into the water of the possibilities surrounding virtual reality, and now an innovative and worthwhile new use has emerged.
Instead of simply pandering to our insatiable need for ever more engaging means of entertainment, VR headsets are being used to reassure and help children in hospitals.
How? Well, thanks to some innovative video work, the futuristic tech is helping take the fear factor out of entering an MRI machine.
Using smartphone-loaded 360-degree videos that can be inserted into VR headsets, London’s Kings College Hospital has started using VR to prepare children for what they’re about to experience, recreating the cramped confines, loud noises and whole clinical process surrounding an MRI scan.
The idea is the brainchild of MRI physicist Jonathan Ashmore and technologist Jerome Di Pietro who saw the need for such a creation after witnessing too many children panicking ahead of MRI tests.
“I was given a 360-degree camera as a present and I wanted to use it to help anxious children I see come into the hospital,” Ashmore explained.
Discussing how the app could help, 10-year-old Matthew Down, who requires annual MRI scans, explained how he was “really worried” before his first scan.
“I didn’t know what to expect. Even though my dad explained, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like,” he said.
Having tested the app on behalf of Kings, he added it could be “really helpful” for those having their first experience of a magnetic resonance imaging machine.
The VR-friendly 360-degree video is available in app form and allows those you try it to look around the room and hear from clinical staff about what to expect, and how it’s important they stay still while in the machine.
Currently exclusive to Android – and iOS version is on the way – the free to download app can be added to your smartphone before slipping your handset into a Google Cardboard style VR headset.
Kings College Hospital has confirmed it will start offering links to the app in select appointment letters as it continues to trial the impact off the software.
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What VR experiences do you want to see? Let us know below.