CIO

Starship children take ‘virtual reality tours’ around New Zealand

Starship Foundation partners with Mercury for '360 Experience' project

Clinical research has shown that psychological wellness is often associated with faster recovery times and less institutionalisation

Helen Waldron, Starship Child Health.

The Starship Foundation has introduced new technology which helps children and their families, who are unable to leave the hospital, enjoy some wonderful New Zealand experiences.

The Starship 360 Experience uses 360° technology and live streaming to “virtually transport” children around New Zealand.

A behind-the-scenes visit to the penguin enclosure at Sealife Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium was livestreamed this week. This allowed in-patient children to get up close with the penguins at feeding time.

Starship is New Zealand’s national children’s hospital, and holds around 1000 outreach clinics where clinicians offer specialist consultation and support to their peers all around New Zealand. Nearly 130,000 patients visit the hospital each year.

Mercury and its customers have funded the project which includes supplying eight VR headsets and eight mobile tablets for patients to take part either in Starship’s Atrium area, or for some patients in their hospital room.

“Children in Starship and their caregivers are often away from other family members and their support networks, and many spend extended periods of time in hospital,” says Helen Waldron, Nurse Unit Manager, Starship Child Health.

“Clinical research has shown that psychological wellness is often associated with faster recovery times and less institutionalisation, so this fully immersive 360 experience is fantastic. It’s great to see the kids enjoying it.”

“This is about giving Starship children the freedom to connect with the outside world without the usual limitations they may face in hospital,” says Julia Jack, chief marketing officer at Mercury.

We’ve already been using VR technology with our customers… This is a great extension of that

Julia Jack, Mercury

“We want to inspire Kiwis about the wonderful things they can do, and we’ve already been using VR technology with our customers for some time now. 

“This is a great extension of that – an opportunity to play a small part in the wellbeing of some really deserving kids and their families. So we’re delighted to help bring the Starship 360 Experience to life.”