March 7, 2017 – Sydney based virtual reality studio Start VR has collaborated with Samsung Australia and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to develop an initiative to supply Samsung VR technology to help alleviate stress for diagnosed oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
The project showcases the potential for VR to be used as a tool to help ease psychological stress and provide a form of “distraction therapy” during typically arduous chemotherapy treatments. Patients were provided with Samsung Gear VR headsets and the option to select an experience either from the Gear VR store or Start VR’s catalogue of content. Experiences ranged from transporting patients to a relaxing travel destination, a skydiving stimulating experience, taking a boat ride through the Sydney Harbour, snorkeling, and petting Koalas at a zoo.
The initiative was led by Start VR’s Head of Content Martin Taylor, who commented: “We wanted to determine if VR had the potential to change people’s outlook on their current environment and we felt that a healthcare setting, where people sit and wait for periods of time, worried about unknown outcomes would be the right place to start.”
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse embraced VR as a treatment support option for their patients and had clinical staff guiding and supervising to ensure patient safety. The company’s Complementary Therapy Director Michael Marthick noted, “Allowing patients to escape the experience of chemotherapy gives them a bit of space to forget what’s going on. In settings such as before surgery, patients are even more anxious. This gives them a distraction and allows them to keep their spirits up. Wellness isn’t just about the physical side of things, it’s also about mental wellbeing.”
Martin Brown, Head of Alliances and Enterprise Mobility, Samsung Electronics Australia commented, “This collaboration with Start VR and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse breaks new ground in the way the immersive nature of our virtual reality platform can be applied to a healthcare environment.” Brown added, “We see collaborations with partners like Start VR, and organizations like the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, as critically important to developing tangible ways for our technology to benefit organizations across a wide range of sectors.”
Image credit: Samsung