On Friday May 20th, River Studios, Balboa Foundation, and DreamWorks volunteered to demo virtual reality at the 12th annual school prom of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Stanford.
This annual event is organized by hospital school teachers from the Palo Alto United School District to celebrate the end of the school year. The event not only invites high school students who can't attend their real proms, but also long term patients from kindergarten through 12th grade and their loving family members. Various arcades, origami stations and face-painting booths were set up for the younger kids and casino tables were set outside for the parents.
In addition to the jungle-themed activity booths, GearVR's transported attendees to whole new worlds and made them forget they were in the hospital.
One girl came back to try the same experience exclaiming, "It feels so real!" The children were mesmerized.
Our mission? To inspire empathy and wonder. Mission Status? Accomplished!
Still, how can virtual reality be used in hospitals beyond just one magical night?
Well, VR can provide relief to the stress and frustrations people feel in confined spaces due to diseases or long term rehabilitation. For example, Samsung took children on amusement rides at the Santa Maria Goretti Hospital last year, granting what was hospitalized children's number one wish to visit an amusement park. Design studio 5D Global Studio is working on animating the indoor environment using augmented reality and virtual reality.
I am looking forward to when hospitals will green-light VR to complement the school curriculum, so children can walk through ancient Rome or explore the depths of the pyramids in Egypt without having to leave their beds.
For many attendees this is the most anticipated event of the year and for some this might be their last prom. It was definitely a prom night I will always remember.