Specsavers Galashiels has conducted a virtual reality trial at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, with the patients becoming the first in Scotland to experience the headsets.

Iain McFadyen, store director at Specsavers Galashiels, built a custom-made computer that links up to virtual reality headsets giving children at the hospital in Edinburgh the chance to escape real life and delve into a new virtual world.

The headsets have the ability to send young patients on thrilling adventures into space, exploring shipwrecks and flying into magical castles, and can be used individually or linked with separate monitors to allow the children’s families and friends to join in.

Relieving stressful situations

Iain hopes the programme will relieve children’s worries in stressful situations and bring a fun activity that they can enjoy along with their parents.

‘I have been working on this project for over a year so I’m thrilled that the children are now able to experience the virtual reality headsets,’ says Iain.

‘In order for the sessions to be accessible for limited mobility and bed-bound children at the hospital, I built a custom portable computer in a suitcase that works with the Oculus and Vive headsets.

‘We are excited that now, through virtual reality, the children will get the chance to visit space, go underwater and hang out with robots and dinosaurs. The response has been amazing and we are adding new experiences constantly.’

Collective contribution

Working in partnership with the Edinburgh’s Children’s Hospital Charity, Specsavers stores across the east of Scotland have made a collective contribution to help fund the equipment, which will allow patients to become completely submerged into the virtual reality world.

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