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Kiara sits in 360 film room.
Kiara sits in the custom-built projection room.

Kiara, a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, loves horses. She plays with toy horses, colors in horse coloring books, and wears a pink sweater with a big horse on it. She dreams of traveling to see horses running together in the wild.

Kiara plays with toy horses in her hospital room.
Kiara plays with toy horses and colors in her horse coloring book in her hospital room.

But Kiara and other children at St. Jude can’t leave the hospital in Memphis, Tenn. to experience travel themselves. With cancer or other life-threatening diseases, they need to be close to medical care at all times. So Expedia decided to bring virtual adventures to four children at St. Jude who dreamed of traveling the world.

The custom-built dream projection room.
The custom-built projection room.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based travel giant partnered with All360 Media and Pixel Rain to create virtual travel experiences that were live-streamed to St. Jude. They used 360-degree cameras and a custom-built projection room within the hospital to stream live videos of remote locations onto the walls, floor, and ceiling, giving the children an immersive, real-time travel experience.

This virtual reality project with Expedia and St. Jude is called the “Dream Adventures” initiative. In October 2015, Expedia sent four employees equipped with 360 degree cameras and live-streaming technology out into the world to capture the travel adventures that four children at St. Jude wanted to take.

All360 Media provided the 360 cameras and live-streaming technology to film the adventures, using satellites to stream the video from remote locations back to St. Jude. Then, Pixel Rain’s custom-built projection room in the hospital took that live footage, wrapped it around a sphere in the computer, and translated it into a four-camera projection that would create an immersive scene for the children.

Expedia's team with a 360 degree camera in Cordoba, Argentina.
Expedia’s team with a 360 degree camera in Cordoba, Argentina.

During Kiara’s wild horse adventure, she sat in the middle of the custom projection room, bundled in a teal blanket on a chair filled with pillows, watching herds of horses running through fields of Cordoba, Argentina. She could hear the crunch of the golden grasses under their hooves and the snorts of horses’ breath.

The other children’s adventures involved talking with archeologists as they dusted off fossils, diving with scuba divers into a fish-filled ocean, and watching monkeys chase each other and take food from people’s hands.

Sage high-fives an Expedia employee on his monkey adventure.
Isaias high-fives an Expedia employee on his monkey adventure.

Because the travel experiences were interactive, the children could talk with the Expedia film crew the whole time, asking them questions that were answered live.

For instance, when Kiara pointed out her favorite horse among the herd — one that looked just like the white horse on her sweatshirt — the crew heard her and brought their cameras in closer. A nurse with St. Jude helped Kiara to walk up to the horses on the wall so that she could pat them.

Kiara, a St. Jude patient, patting a virtual reality horse.
Kiara, a St. Jude patient, patting a virtual reality horse.

Kiara’s virtual trip to Argentina to see her favorite animals was a testament to the power of new technology. Through combining 360 degree filming, projection mapping and live streaming technology, Kiara was able to get much closer to seeing horses in real life while still being in the hospital.

Learn more about the other “Dream Adventures” below, including Sagr’s dinosaur dig, Hannah’s deep sea dive, and Isaias’ monkey adventure. Watch all of the videos via this playlist.

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