Students look at virtual reality.

Virtual reality brings Kentucky basketball to kids with cancer

Pediatric Cancer / Pediatric Oncology, DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic

The UK College of Communication and Information (CI) CoLab is providing a way for fans of all types to cheer on the Cats this basketball season, especially those young fans in the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic

The CoLab’s newest project is a 360-degree 4K virtual recording of the introduction of a UK men’s basketball game shot in collaboration with UK Athletics. After making the video virtual reality (VR) capable, arrangements were made to share the video with children in the DanceBlue Clinic at Kentucky Children’s Hospital

“When you see UK fans on their feet and fireworks when the players walk out, it’s a mesmerizing place,” said Nathan Stevens, college media officer in the College of Communication and Information. “Some of the kids may have been in the hospital their whole life, and it allows them to feel what it is really like to be at a game.”

After putting the VR headset on, the children can turn and view every part of Rupp Arena as fans jump to their feet to cheer on the Wildcats. They can also clap along with the Wildcat and UK cheerleaders, see the UK players up close, and feel the energy of the arena for themselves.

How it works

Stevens and his team have worked extensively with VR in the CI CoLab, a technology usability lab where students and faculty work together to test emerging technologies. He’s also an expert on video games and teaches a course that gives an overview of the industry and its technological advances.

Stevens was inspired to do VR projects by an article he read as a graduate student about different ways to distract patients with cancer from their treatments.

“We’re just wanting to take their minds off of their diseases and treatments for a few minutes and transport the children to another world,” he said.

Stevens is also working on two VR games, a replica snake game and a crane game, which will give children the opportunity to explore, play and communicate with others while in their “virtual world."

The CI CoLab will work with UK Athletics to shoot 360-degree video of the upcoming UK Football Blue/White Spring Game on Friday, April 16. Plans for other sports are in the works.

For more information about the projects Stevens and his team are working on, visit

UK-UL Intro in 360 - 2017 (Shortened) from Nathan Stevens on Vimeo.

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