Dream Adventures is a pilot program launched by Expedia that uses Virtual Reality to allow the children at St Jude Children’s Hospital to travel the world. Most of the children at St Jude’s battling cancer can be there for months or years, and they do not have the opportunity to travel. The Dream Adventures program uses special rooms, 360-degree cameras, and live-streaming to transport kids from their hospital room in Tennessee to see wild horses in Argentina, dig for Dinosaur fossils in Talampaya National Park, or explore the depths of the Ocean by the Great Maya Reef in Mexico.
The program started with four children at the hospital who were able to view live tour guides who were on the scene in each of the travel locations. So, not only were the children able to walk around a room immersed in their location but they could also interact and ask questions in real-time with the guide on the scene. Expedia has set up this site for Dream Adventures where you can get more information and watch videos of the kid’s adventures. Expedia plans to build a permanent installation at the hospital and bring the experience to more children. You can watch the documented story of one of the children’s adventures below.
Another hospital using Virtual Reality for their patients is Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The Samsung Gear VR and Oculus DK2 headsets are used in their patient treatment and therapy programs. The VR applications include a flyover trip to Iceland, an art studio where patients can make a painting, and an underwater experience where they can swim with dolphins and other sea creatures. Cedars-Sinai is taking the program a step further by analyzing results with their patients afterwards to see how VR can be used to improve the patients’ hospital experience and recovery process.
C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan is yet another hospital using VR headsets to transport kids from their hospital rooms into virtual reality experiences as shown in the video below. It is obvious the benefits that travelling to another place in virtual reality can bring to patients who are trapped in hospital rooms for long periods of time. It is wonderful to see them adopting these uses so quickly to improve the quality of life for these patients.