With hospitals putting an increased focus on facilitating welcoming and engaging experiences for patients and their families, incorporating technology beyond the procedure room and into the healing process has become an important focus for healthcare professionals. One of the most worthwhile and important experiences we can create is for children who are facing unknown situations. While there can be significant anxiety, stress and fear involved, research has shown how important positive distractions can be during this time.
In 2019, our team was challenged by the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to help ease these uncertainties by bringing their Infusion Room to life. In what was once a crowded, sterile and uninviting space, we developed an otherworldly digital experience. This breathtaking, outdoor-themed environment invites infusion patients to participate in the “Wilderverse” — an interactive, individual and personalized game that allows users to access a website on a phone or tablet to create a custom avatar. Then, their character explores a virtual outdoor world visible on multiple, curved digital OLED displays in the center of the treatment area.
The “Wilderverse” incorporates nature settings, including a campfire, castle, waterfall, large flower pods, and a ship scene. Patients can choose from three different custom-created avatars (a gerbit, fantasy horse, or treebot) and customize their features. The more the patient interacts with their avatar, also called a pathfinder, the more accessories become available, including wings, fire, and a unicorn horn. Over time, the patients tend to their pathfinders by sending care packages, unlocking special customizations and abilities. This personal engagement develops a stronger bond and affinity between the child and his or her custom avatar.
Being mindful and respectful of this delicate time and depending on how the patient is feeling, they can keep their curtain open to see the large displays in the center of the facility, or if they need more privacy, they can still view the experience on the monitor within their room. We also recognized that many of these children may visit on numerous occasions, so it was important for us to give them the feeling of control over their experience. As they play, they can collect fireflies that will gradually change the color of the Infusion Room’s central tree.
Remarkable experiences can manifest in numerous ways for all ages. After years of working with healthcare providers, we’ve learned much about creating interactive experiences in a healing environment. Immersion within this adaptable, customizable world provides a stunning universe for children to engage with and transports them to a new reality without fear of the unknown. More importantly, this experience that integrates bright colors and interactive activities creates a sense of community amongst all patients, helping them feel that they are not alone and setting their minds at ease. Drastically impacting childrens' lives and healthcare experience is why we feel that The Wilderverse at Connecticut Children's Hospital is deserving of the Best Individualized Experience Award.
Exploring the Wilderverse
Best Individualized Experience