Turning frowns upside down in children’s hospitals: Melbourne’s Smileyscope goes global

11 December 2023

Imagine watching digital fish nibble your arm while you have a blood test. Or embarking on a space adventure with Poggles the Penguin to prepare yourself for what to expect in an MRI.

Smileyscope, the world’s only medical-grade virtual reality device, is making medical procedures safer and more enjoyable for patients in every children’s hospital in Australia, and in more than 40 centres in the USA.

The City of Melbourne is supporting Smileyscope’s journey as its impact continues to stretch across the world through our Invest Melbourne TradeStart program, in partnership with Austrade. 

Taking the sting out of medical procedures

Dr Evelyn Chan, Smileyscope’s Chief Executive Officer, is passionate about transforming pain and anxiety in medical procedures, using virtual reality to reimagine what’s possible.

“I got into medicine to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” Evelyn said.

“Having poked thousands of needles into children, I can tell you that the reality is that the practice of medicine is often traumatic for children, family and healthcare providers alike.

“In medical school they told me to ‘listen through the cries’ – but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Young child wearing VR device while a medical professional is preparing to insert a needle

Needles are used in so many tests and treatments, but they are many children’s biggest healthcare fear. Evelyn’s frustration with the lack of options to help children during these times is what inspired her to create Smileyscope.

While Smileyscope is primarily used in the paediatric setting, developers are now expanding into adult healthcare to help ease the journey of medical procedures for patients of all ages. The device has even been referred to as a “digital anaesthetic”.

“We use virtual reality as a tool to take people away from the sterile clinical environment, and reframe medical procedures in a much more enjoyable and safe way,” Evelyn said.

“Our vision is to expand the frontiers of patient-centred care, improving the moments that matter most.”

Melbourne as a hub for medtech entrepreneurs

For other entrepreneurial people seeking to make a difference in the biomedical industry, Evelyn has some encouraging words:

“Melbourne has an amazing medical ecosystem. We’ve been able to create partnerships with hospitals, research institutes and the startup community to be able to conduct ground-breaking research, and bring this to the bedside to shape the future of global healthcare.

“The talent, infrastructure and innovation resources in Melbourne enable entrepreneurs to be able to thrive and create sustainable businesses locally, and bring these innovations to the world.”

Get support to start and grow your business 

Experts from the City of Melbourne can help you unlock your business potential and join the many innovative and successful companies investing locally. 

Our Business Concierge service is working to make it even easier for traders to operate in the city – with fast-tracked permit approvals, business and marketing support, and industry contacts. 

Our TradeStart advisers help small and medium-sized health and technology businesses identify and secure opportunities in global markets. The TradeStart network is an initiative of Austrade.

“The TradeStart team has helped us connect to other groups locally and internationally, as well as identify resources such as grants and opportunities to raise awareness of our work. We’re grateful for their support,” Evelyn said.

To learn more and book an appointment, visit Invest Melbourne

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11 December 2023
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