Pharma VR Project

Blurred vision. Spasms. Dizziness. Ringing in the ears.

These are just some of the nasty symptoms experienced daily by people with Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating disease that is almost impossible to imagine.

Yet what if there was a way for non-sufferers to gain a deeper understanding of the condition?

Studio Liddell were commissioned to design and develop a Virtual Reality experience for Merck Pharmaceuticalsdesigned to provide an interactive insight into how Multiple Sclerosis effects the brain and ultimately, the rest of the body. As one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Merck wanted to utilise the experience to increase the knowledge of their staff and the medical profession, at a series of training and awareness events.

Working with Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness  (formerly Digitas Health) the outcome was “MS Inside-Out” link to hidden case study, a fully immersive real-time 3D animation experience in VR created by our New Technologies team. Often an ‘invisible’ illness, the challenge was to immerse users by putting them right at the heart of the condition to demonstrate how MS develops. This was achieved by the VR experience instantly placing the user inside the brain of someone with the disease, on a microscopic level.  

A two-minute animated introduction shows the user how MS operates in real terms, attacking the brain right before their eyes.  Users are then able to choose interactions from five areas that are affected by the condition, using gaze technology to experience the devastating effects. The optical nerve sequence has the user standing in a beautiful beach setting, with their sight first becomes blurred, then spotted, leading eventually to blindness. 

MS Inside-Out was unveiled at an internal Merck training day attended by staff, medics, MS sufferers and our support teams. It was received with both excitement and emotion as delegates were fully immersed in the world of MS, many realising for the first time the battles faced.

Peter Caddock, Head of New Technologies explains more:

“With this project we aimed to provide the user with a real insight into the debilitating processes of MS, providing the opportunity to observe them in close proximity inside a virtual brain. Merck  felt strongly that it is important for their staff and partners to gain a better insight to MS in order to both empathize with sufferers and to fully understand the importance of the work the company are carrying out.”

MS Inside Out has now been experienced by several thousand people at many events across Europe and the United States. Studio Liddell put together ‘immersive kits’ for a free from wires VR experience, using Samsung’s GearVR and S7 Edge smartphones to provide a turnkey solution which is easy to transport, setup and use.

With more events planned this year, Studio Liddell are now training Merck staff on the set up and use of these devices, enabling them to help more people learn through empathy. 

A combination of great content, cutting edge VR and a strong message - its powerful stuff.

Simon Smith