Manchester digital agency Corporation Pop news

Xploro helps children understand proton therapy

Xploro helps children understand proton therapy

The cat is out of the bag, Xploro’s first customer is one of Europe’s leading cancer centres, The Christie.

We’ve spent the last four years developing the new Xploro app which helps children and young people understand what’s happening to them when they’re being treated for cancer. It includes games based on the human body, 3D hospital environments for children to explore, and experiences so they know what’s going to happen while they’re being treated, all of which is delivered through a chirpy, augmented-reality character that the child creates, and names themselves. This character becomes their virtual friend, and leads them through every part of the app.

The internationally renowned cancer centre commissioned us to create a brand new module for Xploro which is to be used by children undergoing Proton Beam Therapy. The additional module includes environments modelled on the hospital itself and a 3D experience showing exactly what happens when someone has the pioneering treatment.

Our MD, Dom, was inspired to develop the Xploro app after seeing first hand the importance of giving children and young people age appropriate information when they’re being treated in hospital. In 2011 Dom’s thirteen year old daughter Issy was diagnosed with the rare bone cancer Ewing’s Sarcoma. The clinical care she received, in the six hospitals she was treated at, was second to none, however it became apparent that the information she received about her illness and treatment was severely lacking and it left her feeling scared, anxious and alone. It was this experience that led to Dom and the Corporation Pop team to come up with Xploro.

Research has shown that when people understand what is happening to them when they are ill and having treatment, they have better outcomes from that treatment; the Xploro app is designed to give them that knowledge and information in a fun, and engaging way.

The Christie is the first NHS hospital in the UK to introduce high-energy Proton Beam Therapy, an advanced radiotherapy treatment which precisely targets cancer without causing damage to healthy cells around it. Previously the NHS has funded expensive treatment in America and Germany causing huge disruption to families like Dom and Issy’s and costing many thousands of pounds more than having it here in the UK. Proton Beam Therapy is a particularly good treatment for youngsters whose bodies are still growing and changing which makes Xploro a great match for The Christie.

After trials at The Christie and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Xploro will be available for wider use when it will include an artificially intelligent chatbot which can answer any questions the child has about going to hospital. We are already in talks with hospitals around the UK, Europe and North America and the future for Xploro lies in its expansion. There are already plans to create versions for other illnesses such as Diabetes and Asthma as well as develop the app for older audiences. By next year Xploro will also be available in other languages.

Lives At War online game for schools

Lives At War online game for schools

Today (19th September 2011) sees the launch of Lives at War, our groundbreaking new game aimed at secondary school children learning about life on the Home Front during World War 2.

Developed in partnership with Lighthouse, with funding from the Digital Film Archive Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Lives at War is a virtual world presenting a fictitious Brighton street of the 1940s. The environment uses game mechanics to draw ‘players’ in to the lives and experiences of air-raid survivors, through a number of task-based activities.

Much of the content of the game has been developed with a group of school children aged 14 – 15 working with older people from Brighton who remember the war. Together they have visited museums, galleries and archives, participated in creative workshops, and investigated artifacts and archive films from Screen Archive South East.

We’ve been planning this project with Lighthouse for almost two years now so it’s wonderful to reach the point where we can finally show it off. When we first started scoping the game, browser based 3D worlds were in their infancy but as the project has developed so has the technology. But this process has been about so much more than the technology and one of the most rewarding aspects has been the involvement of the schoolchildren at each stage of the game’s development from researching real life experiences that drive the storyline to producing moodboards for the creation of avatars.

You can read more about the game in our case study and play the game at www.lives-at-war.org.uk

The launch takes place at Lighthouse in Brighton and is part of the month-long Brighton Digital Festival so if you're reading this on the 19th and happen to be in Brighton this evening come along and say hello!