Bringing virtual reality into the pediatrician’s office

Family / Smileyscope

Nobody likes the sight of a needle—especially kids.

A full 60% of children report severe pain when their pediatrician uses a needle to do things like draw blood or administer an IV. Yet these are necessary procedures, which begs the question: if you can’t eliminate the needles, how do you alleviate the pain? The folks at Smileyscope were determined to find an answer.

We used virtual reality to offer a change of scenery.

We created a virtual reality experience that transports children from the doctor’s office to an underwater seascape during their procedure. It is totally immersive—we even coordinated the pediatricians actions with VR animations. For example, when the pediatrician cleans the patient’s skin with an alcohol swab, the patient sees soothing waves washing over her arm.

If he had no goggles and just watched I think he would of been climbing the walls. They were amazing at distraction.

Patient’s Mother


The game was more successful than we’d imagined. 🐬

Smileyscope is one of the first proven successful pediatric VR interventions. After more than 80 clinical trials, patients reported a 60% decrease in pain and a 40% decrease in anxiety when using Smileyscope during a procedure. What’s more, caregivers responsible for those patients reported a 75% reduction in distress.

Smileycope also won several awards for the effort, including the 2019 Webby award for best VR Experience.