Young patients in hospitals can now explore new worlds—from the Egyptian pyramids to a coral reef to the world of Star Wars—via Starlight Xperience, a groundbreaking new technology program unveiled last week by Starlight Children’s Foundation. The innovative new program enables hospitalized kids to enjoy these and other immersive experiences through a state-of-the-art, hospital-ready headset.
Star Wars: Force for Change—the charitable initiative from Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company that harnesses the power of Star Wars to improve the lives of children around the world—served as the Founding Sponsor of Starlight Xperience. At launch, the program will feature Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay—the fun and interactive story created by ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm’s award-winning immersive entertainment division. Through the specially-modified Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headsets, kids can enter a galaxy far, far away and help repair fan-favorite BB-8 and other droids on General Leia’s ship. Additionally, there will be other age-appropriate and dynamic experiences such as virtual snowball fights, immersive field trips to exotic locations through Google Expeditions and Street View, meditation exercises and fun interactive games. The content is designed to entertain and distract young hospital patients, and invites them to explore the world and beyond through the magic of virtual reality.
“Providing these unique entertainment experiences reflects our commitment to bring comfort during what can be difficult times for kids and families. This is part of our Disney Team of Heroes initiative, which includes a $100 million commitment to children’s hospitals,” said Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, Enterprise Social Responsibility for The Walt Disney Company. “The collaboration with Google and Lenovo is the perfect blend of technology and content that we’ll be able to deliver to kids during their hospital stay.”
Starlight Xperience was developed at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford through a series of grants provided by Starlight Foundation to the hospital’s CHARIOT program (short for Childhood Anxiety Reduction through Innovation and Technology) and was made available to patients at the hospital this summer as part of a soft launch that also included Children’s Hospital Colorado; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota; and Texas Children’s Hospital. Through grants provided by The Walt Disney Company and Niagara Cares, a philanthropic arm of Niagara Bottling, and donations from individuals, Starlight plans to deliver up to 1,000 Starlight Xperience kits to its network of hospital partners by the end of 2018—and aims to double that number by the end of 2019.
“We believe Starlight Xperience has the potential to transform the hospital experience for millions of seriously ill children and their families,” said Chris Helfrich, CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation. “We’re thrilled to stand beside The Walt Disney Company, Google, Lenovo and Niagara Cares in unveiling this exciting new program, which is the latest evolution in our 35-year history of bringing innovative entertainment technologies to hospitalized kids.”