We are pleased to unveil an innovative augmented reality (AR) application for kids as part of our Children’s Health Centre (CHC) renewal project. The first of its kind in Canada, the My Hospital Pal mobile app features “Chip” the AR Squirrel as a virtual orientation to the hospital. Chip helps kids become familiar with the hospital setting in a fun, interactive, and kid-friendly way.

Using similar technology as successful and popular augmented reality games, such as Pokémon Go, the Foundation and our hospital partners saw opportunity to leverage the technological innovation and power of AR in our Children’s Health Centre. Our staff and team members from Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Children’s Health Centre worked with Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Studio in Seattle to create the My Hospital Pal app.

Augmented reality is a real-time, interactive experience with a person’s natural environment that is enhanced with computer-generated 3D images superimposed onto real-world objects. The idea to have an AR virtual pet as a hospital orientation for kids was inspired by Dr. Amir Behboudi, an ER doctor at Fraser Health.

My Hospital Pal is engaging and fun, while providing helpful information to children visiting the Children’s Health Centre. Families are presented with a QR code to download the app on their devices, so that children may interact with Chip, who will guide them through the hospital setting and share what to expect during their visit.

The clinical team worked closely with the CHC steering committee and Microsoft to develop the content of the app, including character creation, design, voice, and 3D animation. The My Hospital Pal application is launching with three greetings that are accessed by scanning various acorn images (with embedded QR code) throughout the CHC: a warm welcome, information for children on what to expect before surgery, and a greeting as they exit.

The first phase of the application is being rolled out for children coming into the ambulatory surgical day care department. In the future, Chip will potentially be customized for other areas.

With our donor’s generous support, we have raised $6-million to extensively renovate the Children’s Health Centre to add a new pre-and-post surgery unit, a renewed cancer treatment space for kids, increasing to 15 rooms for outpatient clinics, all with a whimsical woodland theme which inspired the design of Chip.

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