Virtual reality may be struggling to crossover into the gaming mainstream, but doctors are excited about the role it could play in medical treatment and therapy.
In 2016, VR let clinicians step into a cancer cell, and now an immersive experience named Joy is being tested for its ability to alleviate loneliness among long-stay hospital patients.
Built by Australian VR company Liminal and commissioned by the health insurer Medibank, it aims to provide a comforting experience for those who are unable to leave their hospital bed.
Medibank’s chief medical officer, Linda Swan told Mashable there’s an emerging body of evidence that links loneliness to increased risk of disease and even slower recovery times.
“We know it’s more common for people in hospitals,” she said. “We wanted to find a way to do something in the hospital setting to alleviate that feeling.”
In the experience, cartoon figures sit in a circle around a campfire. Using Google Daydream View and its hand controller, the user can select a story from a book, which one of the characters will then read aloud.
Sami Yamin, neuroscientist and head of research at Liminal, said he hopes the campfire setting will be escapist. “Campfires are where communities gather,” he said, “We wanted them, for a short time, to really leave … their hospital environment.”
Images pulled from original article.
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