NASA teams with TrinityKids Care to take sick children to space using VR technology.
We’ve heard all about how immersive technology is changing the lives of the terminally ill, allowing them to escape the confines and limitations of their afflictions and travel to new worlds. In Child of the Earth, a new documentary short from filmmakers Claudio Fäh & Adam Recht, we get a closer look at a particularly interesting case of VR technology having a genuine impact on the life of a suffering young person.
Confined to his home due to advanced cystic fibrosis, 17-year-old Kevin Flores spends most of his days strapped to an assisted breathing machine. As a result, he’s unable to play outside, rush, or exert any real physical strain on his body. If he does venture outside, he is confined to a wheelchair, as he tires quickly due to underdeveloped lungs.
With the help of TrinityKids Care, which happens to be the only dedicated pediatric hospice program in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas for infants, children, and adolescents with life-limiting illnesses, Kevin has been able to periodically escape his afflictions using a virtual reality program that teleports him aborad a painstaking recreation of the International Space Station.
Using an Oculus Rift headset and Touch controllers, Kevin is able to weightlessly navigate the hyper-realistic interior of the ISS, conduct jaw-dropping spacewalks, and operate robotic arms to complete crucial missions.
“When I go in there, I just forget about what I have,” states Kevin in the film.“When you’re up there you feel like, normal. You–how do I say this–with no worries up there. I could just like sit there and look at the Earth all day.”
Kevin while immersed in Mission:ISS / Image Credit: Claudio Fäh & Adam Recht
The VR experience, entitled Mission:ISS, was developed in-house at NASA by their dedicated VR Lab, which has been developing and testing groundbreaking VR technology since 1991. The film features an appearance by NASA Hall of Fame astronaut Scott E. Parazynski, MD, who formed a tightknit relationship with Kevin during the program.
“This film was the result of generous donations from the LA film and tech communities, individual heroes from NASA, and a dedicated hospice team,” says Komatsu during the film. “We are humbled that children such as Kevin can experience such wonderment through the caring of others.”
Child of the Earth premiered yesterday at the American Documentary Film Festival at Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs. You can check it out here.
TrinityKids Care provides assistance to over 160 child patients every day. If you’re interested in donating to this amazing program, visit TrinityKids Care.