Under the Sea VR: A Healthcare VR application by IGNITE VR

IGNITE VR is proud to be part of the team that has won 1st prize at the Global HIT (Health Innovation Technology) Challenge 2017. Against strong competitors from Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, our idea was able to stand out as the most innovative one.

Under the Sea VR is a solution that we crafted with our partners from National University of Singapore to solve a challenge that they face daily in their line of work. In creating this prototype, IGNITE VR aims to showcase that Virtual Reality as a technology is not just hype and is able to be used in real situations like in healthcare to improve the quality of care for patients.

Read on more to find out more about the project and the prototype we made!

How did this project come about?

Half a year ago, we were invited to join the HIT Challenge 2017 (Singapore) as a tech partner and we met up with our NUH partners. Consisting of 2 anaesthetist and a play therapist, they shared with us their challenge in getting children to undergo anaesthesia induction which is to put them to sleep using a gas pass through a ventilation mask before operation. We saw videos and pictures of struggling kids and it really tug at our heartstrings.

We went to their operating theater and walk through the process that the kids had to go through and also invited them to our VR Arcade at Marina Square to try out Virtual Reality for themselves. After we at IGNITE VR is clear about the problems and the clinicians to understand more about the VR technology, we sat down to design and conceptualize the solution which we went to work eagerly on.

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What and why did we chose the features?

We want to use our VR experience to achieve some key benefits for the viewer:

  1. Distract the viewer from the anaesthesia induction procedure and harsh looking operating theatre
  2. To create an environment that is less threatening
  3. Encourage the viewer to breath in and out deeply to inhale the gas and get them to sleep more quickly

For these benefits, we came up with the following features:

Underwater theme was the main feature of the VR experience that we settled on as it is something that we are confident that it is very immersive and will allow the children to be distracted by the wonder of the ocean. The Blu by WeVR is the best example of how amazing a VR experience can be and is often shown at demos all around the world. We place many colourful fishes, turtles, octopus and corals to bring the underwater world to life and to create a soothing environment for the children.

Blowing interaction was a secondary feature that we added to make the experience more engaging by blowing air out with your mouth (and thus having to inhale again to blow again). Bubbles comes out depending on how hard you blow and also fishes will start clustering around you when you blow bubbles continuously. This game play element is hands-free and also integrated into the ventilating mask so that it will make breathing in the sleeping gas feel like part of the game.


Testing out the prototype

A fun looking hardware was something that we think is important too as the first step is to get the children to wear the VR headset. Hence, we sourced for a small VR headset that can fit the children head size and also make it look like a snorkeling mask completed with the snorkeling tube.

With the prototype ready, the clinicians tested it on some of their patients and also showed it to their colleagues. Everyone gave a positive response to it as well as gave some feedback on how we can polish and improve the app which we took note of and made a better polish version afterwards.

We were happy that the children were open to the idea of using Virtual Reality itself and that it succeeded in our aim to reduce preoperative anxiety during anesthesia induction.

Presentation Time

Our dear doctors presented really well during the Singapore round as well as the Global round clinching the 1st prize for both rounds. Fast tracked to the grand finals of [email protected] where 30 startups from all over the world duked it out in 5 minutes to pitch their idea, IGNITE VR had the opportunity to showcase to the audience how VR has the potential for cost savings for patients and healthcare institutions as well as increase the quality of patient management. While we did not win, the judges were interested in the idea and asked many questions which we feel is a great exposure for Virtual Reality.

This journey has been a great one but we are just starting on our goal in not only anxiety in anesthesia but also for other healthcare improvements using VR technology.

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