“The lion is my favorite”, Iona exclaims when she sees how a three-dimensional holography of this animal reacts to her virtual caresses. At the age of nine, she has been admitted to the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital in Barcelona for a week, where she has been one of the first patients to use the new immersive cabin that emulates a natural viewpoint at the Barcelona Zoo, thanks to holographic and 5G technologies applied with the support of Mobile World Capital.
The project, named Zoohh!, joins the activities of the Hospital Amigo de Sant Joan de Déu initiative, such as clowns, music therapy, games rooms located on each floor of the building, trained dogs or cars adapted to detect the child’s mood before entering the operating rooms set as spaceships. “In this case, we apply state-of-the-art technologies so that the children’s stay is as pleasant and as less traumatic as possible”, explains the coordinator of telemedicine and head of audiovisual media at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, Carles Fàbrega.
The idea came up jointly with Mobile World Capital, which has been collaborating for years with the Sant Joan de Deú Hospital to apply technological advances to the field of health. To make this project a reality, they joined efforts with other entities, including the Barcelona Zoo and the Barcelona City Council, Vodafone, the La Caixa Foundation, the Department of the Vice Presidency and Digital Policies of the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Fundació El Somni dels Nens.
“We have been working with Sant Joan de Déu for years, which is an absolutely innovative hospital. With Vodafone and the collaboration of the Generalitat de Catalunya, we promoted the early deployment of 5G, since its connectivity and low latency in real time allow us to improve emergency assistance, remote patient monitoring and telemedicine”, recalls the director of intelligent connectivity at Mobile World Capital and coordinator of the National 5G Observatory and the 5G Barcelona initiative, Eduard Martín. “5G gives us almost unlimited connectivity. It allows us, for example, to monitor cardiology patients through sensors and detect any problem in children before it arises”, adds Fàbrega.
The cabin Zoohh! It is equipped with 3D volumetric and stereoscopic technology through a 32-inch 8K Looking Glass holographic screen connected to a Leap Motion sensor system, which reacts to the movement of children’s hands so that they can interact with the holographic animals without needing of virtual glasses or physical contact with the facilities, thus avoiding possible contagion.
“To apply this technology, we work with images that incorporate information on the depth of the scene and the videos are prepared in a format called Quilt, which generates a matrix in the video in which each image has a different point of view, which then, it is displayed simultaneously so that the user has the sensation of depth and volume”, reveals Javier Campos, technical director of Increase Solutions, the company specialized in augmented reality that has developed the project.
In the future, in addition to incorporating more animals – there are currently four: the lion, the giraffe, the tortoise and the elephant – it is planned to install the cabin in the Pediatric Cancer Center currently under construction, since pediatric patients usually spend long stays in Hospital. This technology could even facilitate the rehabilitation processes of some diseases, helping children to carry out certain movements with the aim of “recovering by playing”, advances the telemedicine coordinator and head of audiovisual media at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.
As the adults debate how this little kid metaverse works, Iona enjoys it. She is having a “great time” watching her giraffe lick her virtualized hand and learning that this animal only sleeps 30 minutes a day. At his side, his mother, Marta Díaz, is interested in the project, since she is a computer scientist and works with her husband in their family business selling and maintaining equipment, Imad Computers, in Calafell (Tarragona) where they will return in the next few days, since Iona is almost recovered.
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