It looks like Patch Adams may have been on to something. Perhaps laughter, and just simply feeling good, is the best medicine (in very specific circumstances). Now, some special kids in London are getting a plus-size dose of that medicine prescribed to them.
The Royal London Hospital has a progressive new initiative advocating the healing powers of art and play for children. Recently, the facility welcomed a new installation called “Woodland Wiggle”. The project is a collaboration between artist and designer Chris O’Shea, and digital production company, Nexus Interactive Arts. While the hospital has already been housing some breakthrough playspaces—including a through-the-looking-glass style room where everything is five times a child’s size—Woodland Wiggle is an interactive digital experience they can get lost in.
Similar to the wave machine that Nexus made for Coca-Cola recently, the Wiggle is a responsive portal into an imaginative world that allows children to see themselves mirrored in a different place. The game is displayed on a giant TV set, where the kids are reflected as standing in a living storybook world. As they interact with it, dancing and flinging about their limbs, the kids watch as their on-screen counterparts leave behind swaths of paint across several different woodland scenes.
Working with clinical teams at the hospital, O’Shea found movements that would give children the best health benefits, and which ended up influencing the games’ format. Woodland Wiggle is triggered by Xbox’s Kinect camera tech, which beams the young user’s image right back at them, allowing the children to forget their troubles for a while and instead focus on playing in some new backgrounds with cartoonish animal friends that live far beyond the hospital’s walls (and our dimension altogether).