The Yale School of Medicine announces the opening of the new Yale Center for Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics

The Yale Center for Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics, led by Kimberly Hieftje, PhD, and Asher Marks, MD, is set to open at the Yale School of Medicine. Building on the successes of the XR Pediatrics (XRPeds) lab in the Department of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, the new center will bring extended reality (XR; virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality) access to the entire Yale community, and more .) resources, support, expertise and training.

The Yale Center for Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics will focus on using XR and gaming technology to design and implement interventions and clinical applications that improve health outcomes for adolescents, while fostering new, interdisciplinary collaborations with experts in areas such as public health, Computer science, engineering, clinical care, medical education, ethics, law and art. Its mission is to provide effective and safe XR applications for youth, with a particular focus on individuals at risk of experiencing health inequalities based on race/ethnicity, age, gender, sexual identity, socioeconomic status and disability.

The center plans to host events within the New Haven community and beyond. In September, the Center will host the inaugural Virtual Reality in Pediatrics Healthcare Symposium in partnership with the International Virtual Reality Healthcare Association (IVRHA) on September 19-20, 2023 at the Yale School of Medicine. The symposium will bring together researchers, clinicians, youth advocates and industry to discuss best practices for developing and implementing safe and effective immersive applications targeted at youth end-users. co-director dr. Kimberly Hieftje said: “With the ever-evolving technology landscape, youth now have access to unprecedented virtual, augmented and mixed reality platforms where they can innovate, learn and connect.” While these technologies are reshaping approaches to healthcare, education and provide treatment for adolescents, there is also a significant need for corresponding advances in health and safety measures. It is our responsibility to protect our youth from potential pitfalls and dangers associated with immersive technologies while empowering them to fully realize the potential of these exciting digital playgrounds.”

co-director dr. Asher Marks said, “XR technologies have an adoption rate that matches, and often surpasses, other modern digital revolutions such as color television, cell phones, and the Internet.” Like any technology, XR is not inherently good or bad, but it is an urgent problem to understand how it affects young populations and how it can best be used for them. We look forward to evaluating the potential hazards and benefits of these technologies with the continued support of industry partners, as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Public Health (DPH) like our colleagues here at Yale in the Department of Pediatrics and beyond.”

The Yale Center for Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics is slated to open later this summer at 55 Church Street in New Haven.