nexum designed and developed the innovative virtual reality app in several important stages:
Even though the VR app is meant primarily for child users, it explicitly includes parents in the process of preparing for surgery. One key feature of this is the unique mirroring function developed by nexum itself that allows parents to watch on a second smartphone what their children are seeing, doing, and experience in the virtual world. This invaluable feature also enables the parents of the youngest patients to help their children navigate the app.
The conceptual development of the «kinderinsel» app deliberately did not focus on the technical details of the virtual reality solution, but on the issue it is here to address: the fear of hospitals.We engaged in detailed international research to understand the current knowledge and science about the issue: Where does the fear of hospitals come from? How does it express itself? How do children cope with it? Which technological or non-technological ideas have been tried to combat it? By asking these questions, a didactic concept was formed to serve as the basis for the solution.The assumptions gained in this first step were then tested and explored in half-day focus group workshops, deliberated designed to be as playful as possible for the target audience: children (with and without personal experience of surgery), accompanied by a parent each, were asked about their fears and anxieties in general and specifically relating to hospitals and surgery. The workshop also allowed the participants to contribute their ideas for the app in the form of drawings and stories.
The insights gained from our pre-studies and focus group workshops slowly came together to form the conceptual framework for the VR app, the navigation concept, the user experience, and the actual contents of each chapter of the app.Work also progressed on the visual design of the solution. In several stages, the user interface gained its final look and feel, accompanied by a physical on-boarding package that includes cardboard glasses, a pet penguin, an explanatory flyer, and the lovingly designed «kinderinsel». At the same time, the many 3D protagonists, including «Kimi» the penguin, evolved from a first sketch drawing to finished animated models.
The virtual reality app was programmed and realized by means of the Unreal VR development platform.This facilitated the complex and sophisticated animation of the VR characters, the design of a child and user-friendly navigation menu, the creation of virtual rooms like the interactive operating theatre, and the layout of the many locations discovered by the user in the immersive story – the heart of the «kinderinsel». nexum also produced the smartphone app for both Android and iOS that is needed to delve into the virtual reality environment. It is available as a free download from the Apple and Android app stores in Switzerland.
„With this app at their fingertips, our young patients and their parents can discover our hospital and what goes on in it from the comfort of their homes. nexum has opened the doors to the Inselspital – and we thank them for it!
Catharina Bucher Anliker, Hospital manager, Paediatric Surgery Hospital, Inselspital Bern
The bilingual app "Kinderinsel" is available for the general population and not only for patients of the Insel Gruppe. The app is now available free of charge for iOS and Android: