An immersive experience that brings little patients of the department of pediatric surgery to the discovery of a comfortable underwater environment. The goal? Help them overcome the fear and anxiety in the pre-surgery phase.
Underwater. This is the name of the project realized in collaboration with Achipe. It originates from the need of this non-profit organization to assist the youngest patients, with a gentle and calm approach, from their room to the operating theatre. The mission of the association is that of helping, supporting, and giving assistance to children affected by pediatric pathologies and their families. This virtual reality project meets these needs and aims at wants to contain the psychological effect that children face during their hospitalization, thus reducing anxiety and fear that they feel, due to this – most likely their first – experience in the hospital.
Client: Achipe Association, in collaboration with Azienda Provinciale per i Servizi Sanitari.
Field: VR for healthcare
Type of project: VR Application – Unity
Discover: the analysis phase
The development of this VR project started inside the Santa Chiara hospital, in Trento, where it's been tested and used for the first time. After a careful analysis, carried out in collaboration with the team of Achipe and the doctors of the department of pediatric surgery, we came up with a solution that met the needs of both the hospital and the association. Two VR experiences that take place in a comfortable underwater world, one of which would be interactive.
Design: the ideation phase
The analysis showed that the young patients of the department, aged between 3 and 13, are transported from their bedroom to the operatory room laying on a hospital bed, escorted by the nurses. For most of them, this is a traumatic moment that coincides with the detachment from their parents and the approach to the surgery. Therefore, we have chosen a type of environment that, wherever you look at, can guarantee a unique experience: an aquatic world where tens of fish, whales, seahorses with bright and vivid colors swim around the kid with reassuring movements. The idea has been presented to the children of a few schools in Trentino, to gather some feedback and observe their reactions. As for the hardware, we've concluded that Oculus Go is our best choice, thanks to its accessible costs for the sanitary system, its simplicity, the stand-alone factor, and its ease of transportation.
Develop: the development phase
The analysis and the design directed our choice towards a Unity application, that enabled us to give birth to a virtual reality experience for Oculus Go, that would not sacrifice quality nor performance.
The 3D assets have been realized with a low poly technique. Thanks to this, we've managed to obtain a "cartoonesque" effect (that fits the target of the experience) and to add to the environment many, without overloading the hardware. The animation of the assets is based on the analysis that was carried out. Furthermore, the interactions have been tested with the help of some chosen groups of young people.
Distribute: the spreading phase
To get our freshly made experience inside the hospital's department quickly and seamlessly, the Azienda Sanitaria was provided with 6 Oculus Go, integrated through a Kiosk application (an internally developed software) that allows the VR experience to start autonomously once the visor gets worn, thus avoiding technical difficulties and any kind of initial setup. Moreover, to further support the advertisement by the association, we've designed a logo, wrote a press note, and scheduled the event for the launch of the project