One of the great features of immersive virtual reality (VR) is the way it can give people a viewing experience like no other. It’s why Memorial Hermann Health System along with Houston Rockets’ star centre Dwight Howard have collaborated to bring a 360-degree video, using the Google Cardboard head-mounted display (HMD), to paediatric patients at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
The kids were given a headset with a specially recorded 360-degree behind-the-scenes tour of VIP facilities at Toyota Center, the Rockets’ home court. As they watched Howard act as official tour guide, what they didn’t realise was the star centre had turned up to the hospital to surprise them, once they’d finished watching the video.
“I had an incredible time with all the kiddos and my favorite part was just seeing them smile,” said Howard. “You know they go through so much on a daily basis, so for me to be able to come to the hospital and spend a couple of minutes with them means the world to me.
“The idea of bringing an outside experience inside to our patients, from the comfort of their hospital beds, is not a new concept for us,” said Susie Distefano, Senior Vice President and CEO of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in a statement. “Only this time we’re using similar technologies to allow them to take an exclusive VIP tour of the Houston Rockets’ facilities, personally escorted by one of our city’s most famous athletes. It is a joy and a privilege to be able to bring special opportunities like these to the children we serve.”
Previously the hospital was part of the Google Glass Explorer Program giving patients the opportunity to visit Houston Zoo, whilst staying in bed.
“Both the 360 video and the Google Cardboard technologies are so new, we are still exploring all the different ways we might be able to utilize them,” said Distefano. “But whether it’s our affiliated physicians using them in the clinical setting, or our care providers using them to bring some much needed smiles to the faces of our patients, the possibilities are quite exciting!”
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