UW News

October 5, 2006

SnowWorld exhibit to open at Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum

Virtual reality gives users the illusion of going inside SnowWorld, an interactive computer-generated virtual place where children at UW Harborview Burn Center escape their extreme pain during wound care procedures for severe burns.

Wearing a virtual reality helmet, pediatric burn patients can float through icy canyons and throw snowballs at penguins, snowpersons, and other virtual objects by directing their gaze and pressing a button. SnowWorld will be one of 87 creations on display from Dec. 8, 2006, to Aug. 27, 2007, at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum on museum row in Manhattan.

Once every three years, the museum’s National Design Triennial exhibit highlights the best of American innovation in product design, architecture, furniture, film, graphics, animation, and fashion. Showing with SnowWorld will be the Boeing DreamMachine, NASA’s new X-43A hypersonic jet, Pixar Animation, and Clear Blue Hawaii’s see-through kayak, among others. Hunter Hoffman, director of the UW VR Analgesia Research Center, led the interdisciplinary team that designed and tested SnowWorld. Hoffman recently was named one of the Fast50 innovators of the coming decade.