VR is pretty good at distracting us from the outside world - take off the headset you've been wearing and you'll see that it's gone dark/everyone has left/you really need to shower.
Frog is putting this to good use with VR Care, a low cost, open source virtual reality headset and Epione, the accompanying game concept. Both are designed for a very specific purpose - distracting burns patients from pain during ongoing treatments, over weeks/months, in hospitals.
It was developed together with Dr. Brian Pridgen, a plastic surgery resident at Stanford and healthcare design fellow at Frog. And every aspect of how the patient will use the hardware and software has been carefully considered.
It's durable, comfortable and water resistant because burns patients' bandages are soaked with warm water by nurses. Plus it comes flat packed to make it easier to get them out to hospitals in bulk and eco-friendly.
As for Epione, it has to be usable when the patient is lying down. So Frog built the VR game to allow the patient to re-orientate it to establish a reference point. They might also have limited room/ability to move their head up and down so controls are left and right turns only. And so it's not too stressful for non gamers, elements like a regenerative shield allow players to get second chances to complete stages of the game.
The team involved posted this on Frog's blog: "Numerous studies have demonstrated that the immersive environment of virtual reality is a highly effective method of distraction for burn patients receiving wound care. However, virtual reality is not widely used in clinical practice outside of research studies, because many of these systems are customized and expensive."
The headset is part of an ongoing study with burns patients and Epione is available as an APK file on GitHub. The idea is that this project will be used as a model for further partnerships - Frog says VR Care could be made for less than $30 a headset, the initial goal was $10 per unit.