A child with Starlight VR goggles. A child with Starlight VR goggles. A child wearing the Starlight VR goggles. (Photo: Courtesy)

With virtual reality, hospital kids get transported into Star Wars universe

Project is part of the charitable 'Force for Change' initiative.

Whether it's a visiting clown or amazing artwork, hospital patients almost always appreciate a break from the routine, something to distract them from their illness.

Enter Disney. A few years back they launched "Star Wars: Force for Change," a nonprofit that harnesses the fans' passion for the popular science fiction franchise and transforms it into philanthropic endeavors. Fans have volunteered their time to countless charities across the world and have raised millions of dollars in donations.

Force for Change's latest project – a collaboration between Lucasfilm, Disney, Google and Niagara Cares – aims to help young patients in need of a pick-me-up. The group will donate hundreds of virtual reality headsets to hospitals across the country. Kids at the hospital simply put on the goggles and are instantly transported to the Star Wars universe.

“At Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB, we strive to make the impossible possible, and to deliver stories that inspire and entertain,” said Vicki Dobbs Beck, who's working on the project. “We are honored to use our immersive storytelling to spark children’s imaginations during the hospital stay.”

The technology, known as Starlight VR, will be a physical program geared toward entertainment and distraction purposes for the children. In addition to the exclusive Star Wars content, the program will also incorporate many of Google’s VR technologies, including Google Expeditions, which are virtual field trips to the world’s most amazing places.

Force for Change will also send celebrities to hospitals. The first arrived last week when Luke Skywalker himself, aka Mark Hamill, visited the Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando to take photos and work on crafts with the kids.


Hamill was in town for the big Star Wars Celebration, where he gave a heartfelt tribute to co-star Carrie Fisher and unveiled the first trailer for "The Last Jedi." The upcoming film, produced by American Kathleen Kennedy and Israeli Ram Bergman, is helping stoke continued excitement in the 40-year-old franchise.

The new headsets at the hospitals are just one of many ways that people can experience Star Wars through virtual reality and other immersive experiences.

“We’re thrilled to support this Starlight program and use our virtual reality technology for good in hospitals around the United States,” said Amit Singh, the Vice President of Virtual Reality at Google.

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