Hospitals can become a lonely place, especially around the holidays. Though occasionally punctuated by visits from loved ones or therapy pets, that in between time remains alone, often without companionship. But Australian VR company Liminal has been commissioned by health insurer Medibank to make those hospital stays less lonely for the holiday season.
Joy, Liminal’s VR journey, was created to comfort patients in hospitals, similar to how therapy dogs can bring minor joy to patients’ lives with a visit. In the Google Daydream-powered title, the player joins a campfire circle, where together themselves and cartoon characters read a book aloud together. Sami Yamin, neuroscientist and head of research at Liminal, told Mashable about the significance of a campfire specifically. “Campfires are where communities gather,” he explained. “We wanted them, for a short time, to really leave […] their hospital environment.”
There won’t be much interactivity to be found within Joy, but that’s intentional. Liminal made Joy a mere smartphone-enabled experience (contrary to something room-scaled like the HTC Vive) because they want to appeal to a broader range of patients, from children to the elderly. By paring down interactivity, patients won’t feel overwhelmed, and are more inclined to enjoy the journey overall.
Joy is currently being tested at a single hospital in Melbourne, Australia.