Honda has expanded its annual Happy Honda Days event with its recent drive to spread holiday cheer among patients at the Children's Hospital of Orange County in California.
The automaker tapped Oculus Rift for what the company calls the Candy Cane Lane, a giving program that seeks to provide children in the hospital a more immersive holiday experience.
Holiday Cheer For Hospitalized Children
The children currently receiving treatment will not be able to go home to experience the sights and sounds of the holidays. Anticipating this, Honda created VR content that includes a spectacular lights display.
In the Candy Cane Lane VR experience, each patient was set amid a virtual space riding a Honda virtual sleigh. The conveyance drove past a snow-covered street and while the sleigh trundled on, the Christmas lights and decorations became more extravagant.
Toy soldiers and snowmen were also brought to life. The journey ended with a fireworks display and Santa Claus getting pulled by his reindeers overhead.
The automaker has captured the initiative on video and it is incredibly heartwarming how Oculus Rift successfully transported the children to the titular Candy Cane Lane bedecked in its Christmas glory. It is particularly priceless to watch the kids perk up after Santa Claus zoomed past them, dropping a gift. A real gift was also placed in the children's lap.
"How did that happen?" a surprised young girl asked those around her afterward.
Candy Cane Lane Initiative
The video is currently posted at Honda's Facebook page as part of Honda's drive to generate more awareness for its project. According to Honda, it will also be donating money to the CHOC Children's and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. This will be based on likes and shares that the video will generate. Honda will give $1 for each until the figure reaches $100,000.
"This year Honda has the unique privilege of transporting children at CHOC Children's to a virtual winter wonderland that brings the festive spirit of the holidays to the kids directly," Susie Rossick, assistant vice president at Honda Auto Marketing, said. "Seeing the kids' heartfelt reactions to the experience and being able to bring magic to their hospital stay is especially meaningful during the holidays."
Honda's initiative has propped the current VR technology further, underscoring its utility beyond mere entertainment. According to Mashable, it demonstrated the way VR serves as an empathy machine, enabling us to connect to others. As VR gets refined further such as the way more intuitive controllers are being introduced, it is poised to play a very important role in the way we view and interact with technology.
On a side note, it appears that the children were not able to use the Oculus Touch. This VR controller could have made the experience even more interactive.