Augmented reality app for kids going into surgery launched at Surrey hospital
VANCOUVER -- Staff at Surrey Memorial Hospital are hoping that a friendly augmented reality app will put kids at ease as they get ready for surgery.
Chip the squirrel, is accessed through the My Hospital Pal app. Using a smartphone, parents and kids can scan special posters on the walls in the kid’s surgery unit, and Chip pops up on the screen.
“You’re going to meet my friends and visit other friends in my home,” says the cartoon Chip.
The project is aiming to make the experience of getting ready for surgery a little less scary for kids.
“Chip is very, very sweet,” said Jane Adams, CEO of Surrey Hospitals Foundation. “He tells them that inside the centre, they are going to meet his friends. So it kind of demystifies healthcare workers, particularly now when everyone’s behind a mask,” said Jane Adams, a spokesperson for the project.
The augmented reality technology used in the app is similar to that which is used in the popular Pokemon Go game, and although Chip is only available in English, the visuals of the animation are designed to be instructive on their own.
“It's very, very easy to use, even if English isn't your first language,” Adams said. “His animation is so vivid and fun that it's very clear to children and their families what they should be doing next.”
For example, Chip shows off his hospital wrist band by waving his arm and pointing at the bracelet.
“Do you like my cool wristband? I have one for you to put on too,” Chip says.
He also tells the kids it’s time to put on their surgical pyjamas by twirling around in his own set of hospital blue PJs.
“I have some hospital pyjamas for you to put on. I'll put some on too!”
If the project goes well, it may be expanded to other areas of the hospital.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim