Australian innovator Smileyscope is taking the fear out of hospital for kids

Australian paediatrician and entrepreneur Dr Evelyn Chan is changing the way children experience needles. Her company, Smileyscope, uses virtual reality (VR) to improve clinical procedures involving needles – everything from vaccinations, blood taking, preparation for imaging procedures and even chemotherapy dose delivery.

Needle procedures are not only traumatic for children, they also cause headaches for healthcare systems too. Billions of dollars are spent in the US alone each year just in managing paediatric needles – mainly in nurse time, equipment use and needlestick injuries, delays and complications for patients.


To address the problem of traumatic needle procedures for children, Smileyscope applied leading clinical evidence and new digital tools to develop a best practice approach to improve these procedures. A goggle-based underwater VR adventure with Poggles the penguin was the result of many years of research, development and clinical studies by Dr Chan and her team – with support from the Australian Government Accelerating Commercialisation program. Australian clinical leaders, patients and their families collaborated in developing the VR story and have led clinical studies for the technology.

Smileyscope’s VR experience with Poggles informs, calms and distracts during the needle procedure, as the animations have been created to perfectly coincide with the procedures being carried out. A recent randomized controlled trial of 252 children aged 4-11 years getting blood tests and intravenous cannulation found using VR can decrease pain by up to 60%, decrease distress by up to 75% and halves the need for restraints. This was the largest and most rigorous trial ever done using VR for a medical procedure.

Smileyscope is in late stage clinical development – undertaking studies and hospital pilots in Australia and in the US, where the company has set up a second office. The company is continuing to iterate and innovate their technology to ensure they are well set up to scale – and to meet the already significant demand from paediatric hospitals in Australia and the US.

Find out more about Smileyscope