Since its release earlier this month, Pokemon Go has swept the nation with millions across America fanning out to try and capture the game’s inscrutable creatures.
The hunt is less fun, however, for children with cancer and other ailments who are confined to hospital beds. To solve the problem, a group of students at Brigham Young University have created a way for hospital patients to play the game from the comfort of their own rooms.
“We were just talking amongst ourselves saying ‘how can we take advantage of this Pokemon Go craze?’” Andrew Forrest, a 24-year-old advertising student who worked on the project, told InsideEdition.com. “Someone said 'hey there are kids out there who should be playing but can't.'”
The project took off from there. Using simple conference call and screen share technology, Forrest and fellow students at the school’s AdLab, the university’s in-house student-led advertising agency, developed a program that allows bedridden kids to link up with real life players who act as their legs outside.
So far, the project, called GoForGood, is in its infancy and has only been tested with one patient, 9-year-old Camron Talbot. Talbot, who is beginning a second hospital stay in Salt Lake City’s Primary Children’s Hospital, suffers from Burkitt lymphoma.
From his bed, Talbot was able to direct his older brother Dillon in real time to collect Pokemon.
According to Forrest, his team is interested in taking the project to a larger scale and hospitals have expressed interest in the technology. Growth, though, has been hampered by bureaucratic hurdles and privacy concerns.
With no proprietary technology, the future of the game may lay with individual users setting up their own proxy Pokemon Go catching arrangements on their own. Instructions for how to use the technology can be found on the project website, IGoForGood.com.
With its soaring popularity, Pokemon Go has had a mixed legacy in hospital rooms. In one Michigan care facility, the game has been used to help get patients moving and on their feet.
Elsewhere, however, hospitals have banned the game for its workers, arguing it can become a dangerous distraction.