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How Tech Is Taking Kids Out of the Hospital During the Holidays

Photograph by Getty Images

Forget about Santa. This year, Honda is where the holiday action is—at least for a group of sick kids who won’t be home for the holidays.

The auto giant's tech department teamed up with the Children's Hospital of Orange County in Southern California and Microsoft to produce and distribute a virtual reality show that captures the beauty and light of Christmas—which sick kids could enjoy in the jammies at the hospital.

Microsoft donated Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headsets, and Honda produced the video. CHOC hosted the virtual trip down "Candy Cane Lane," taking the headsets to bed-ridden kids, who were then able to travel in the back seat of a virtual sleigh.

"Seeing the kids' heartfelt reactions to the experience and being able to bring magic to their hospital stay is especially meaningful during the holidays," Susie Rossick, Assistant Vice President, Honda auto marketing, said.

The VR program and images feature snowcapped houses and lots of pine trees—typically wintery holiday scene. The wintertime adventure captivated the intended viewers, who watched the slow-moving sleigh go down the street featuring houses heavily decorated with lights, wreaths, snowmen, toy soldiers and tiny reindeer.

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Plus fireworks! And right at the end of the fireworks finale, virtual Santa drops a virtual gift onto the the viewers lap. Simultaneously, a real one is hand delivered to the viewer.

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According to the National Brain Tumor Society, an estimated 16,616 people will die from malignant brain tumors (brain cancer) by the end of 2016. For children imprisoned by the uncertainty of this illness, virtual existence is one escape during the holidays.

In an effort to create awareness for their Candy Cane Lane giving program and to continue showing their support, Honda posted a 360-degree version of the video, along with the children’s reaction to it, on their Facebook page. For each “like” or “love,” the video receives on the Honda Facebook page, the company will donate $1 to CHOC Children’s and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (up to $100K total, through January 2).

The video has reached well over half a million views and nearly 4K shares.

Candy Cane Lane is part of Honda’s annual Happy Honda Days campaign: a nostalgic series of promotion via television, Snapchat and other social platforms and print publications.

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