AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Innovation is meeting donation at Shepeard Blood Center! It’s introducing some new technology to help donors take their mind off the donation process.
The Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality headsets immerse donors in a calming and interactive experience.
Leaders at Shepeard hope they’ll be beneficial in multiple ways; one being a distraction, especially for first-time donors who might be scared of that needle-prick.
“You’re kind of taken into a different world, you’re going through this experience and you’re kind of forgetting about what’s happening around you,” said Benjamin Prijatel, the CEO of Shepeard Community Blood Center. “And before you know it, it’s been seven or eight minutes and your donation is over and you’re ready to go home.”
Robert Davies III has been donating at Shepeard for many years, and was one of the first donors to try out the headset.
“You can just get caught up in the video or the virtual reality, and just chill out for twenty minutes or half an hour,” he said.
Bigger than that, they’re trying to get more young people to donate.
Prijatel said there’s been a 30% decline in donors under the age of 30 this past decade.
“That’s really scary for the blood supply because it means our donors are getting older and older and we’re relying on such a small percentage of the population to donate blood,” he said. “Younger folks are always connected to devices and tablets and phones, so we’re trying to think of ways to really connect with younger folks and we think these HoloLenses are a great way to do that.”
They only have two headsets right now, which will be rotated through the center’s different locations and blood drives.
“It’s supposed to be fun, but we’re really focused on the donor safety aspect of this” Prijatel said. “And we think, especially for our first time younger donors, this is going to be a game-changer.”
The HoloLens headsets launch on Monday at the Burke Health Blood drive. Prijatel said they’ll wait to hear feedback about them before buying more.
For a full schedule of where they will be on what days, click here.