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Bright nights, bright ideas

Can we apply virtual reality in fighting cardiovascular disease?

Stefan Hoevenaar

Creative Director

22nd of December, 2016

A future without cardiovascular disease starts with prevention. It is important for young adults to understand the risks associated with certain lifestyle choices. That is why the Heart Association is always looking for new and innovative ways to communicate effectively, especially when it comes to young adults. They use new media, trends and technology to get their message across. One promising new invention is Virtual Reality. The Heart Association was eager to find out if VR could provide added value in their communication. This is where we stepped in!


Every day more than 100 people die from cardiovascular disease, and more than 1000 people end up in hospital because of it. There are more than 1 million cardiovascular patients in the Netherlands. The Dutch Heart Association is working toward a future without cardiovascular disease. They invest in scientific research in order to develop effective methods of prevention, screening, early diagnosis and treatment. The Heart Association asked us to help them research if it is possible to apply virtual reality in fighting cardiovascular disease.


Since prevention is all about reaching young adults, we decided to actually involve young adults: We organized our first ‘Bright Night‘! Eighteen eager young adults, all students of creative universities, dived into VR. However… none of them had ever experienced VR before. Had not even tried a Cardboard! This would become a difficult mission… We had to address big questions. How can a virtual experience change behavior in reality? How can it really affect the mindset and choices of critical young adults? And also: Would it even be possible to come up with a brilliant idea in just a couple of hours with 3 experts accompanied by 18 VR noobs?





It turned into an inspiring pressure cooking night which taught the Heart Association and the students so much about VR. The students worked all night long, in 6 groups. We coached and educated them about VR ideation, concepting, prototyping and presentation. They pitched their ideas in 4 rounds, the last one at 6AM. The place was buzzing with energy, inspiration and fun!


During breakfast, when The Heart Association arrived, the excited (and exhausted!) students blew everyone away with incredible presentations and smart ideas. They even presented a few quickly rigged up prototypes. Some of the ideas:


A game app
You are bobsledding through veins, dodging unhealthy products and picking up healty ones. To be used online and for fundraising purposes.


A 360 film from the perspective of ambulance and hospital personnel
Picking up a person who has just suffered a heart attack. To be used to increase awareness.


A duo experience
Two people think they are watching the same VR film on a Cardboard but afterwards they find out that the details were different. To be used in schools to facilitate discussion about healthy living.


A 360 film that lets you take a sneak peek into the lives of your heroes
Walk into a sports team’s dressing room and witness their behavior and their conversations about life choices. A subliminal message, to be used to
raise awareness and stimulate people to think about their own choices.


The students showed an exceptional understanding of the client and the context and came up with ideas that could swiftly be applied in the Heart Association’s daily practice. Now it is up to the client to choose which idea to work out. To be continued…