Nov 20, 2015 | By Tess

Slo 3D Creators’ Mike Balzer and the man who in 2014 used 3D scanning and 3D printing technology to help surgeons remove his wife’s brain tumor, has now developed something fun for the kids using his 3D and virtual reality savvy.


The product, which will be imminently launched through a Kickstarter campaign, is the NEODiVRjr, a virtual reality viewer designed specifically for children. Balzer’s ultimate goal with the project is to introduce and integrate virtual reality as a form of therapy in children’s hospitals. As the technology can transport people to faraway places and environments, the NEODiVRjr could be used to help distract ailing children from their discomfort, as well as to potentially even help with their physical therapy treatments with the use of environment Awareness Virtual Reality (eAVR).

"Alps" VR App

In designing the NEODiVRjr for children, Balzer had to take into account several factors such as the size, cost, view-ability, and VR content control. To account for the latter, Balzer opted to design the NEODiVRjr to be used exclusively with Apple’s iPod Touch 6G because of its relative affordability, and Apple’s effective content control and family control features.

Essentially, the NEODiVRjr is composed of a lightweight shell that can easily be attached to the iPod Touch 6G, which is held in place with a metallic fabric and aluminium disc that allow for compatibility with Google Cardboard’s Trigger function as well as Google Cardboard’s VR content. To accommodate a child’s size, the Interocular Pupil Distance (IPD) was set at 55mm (2.17”), and the viewer was designed to be quite small itself, with dimensions of 130mm L x 67.86mm W x 52.55mm H and a weight of only 155g (including the iPod and handle).

There are also two versions of the NEODiVRjr: the Basic version, designed to keep the cost down, and the xTreme version, which features a hinged lens box facilitating access to the touch screen and an additional mounting point that can be used with any GoPro compatible head gear. Both the Basic and xTreme versions come with a detachable handle, and will eventually come with the option to add the “Magic Amber”, a Bluetooth 6-axis controller that can be worn on the wrist or fingers to create movement in the VR environment.

NEODiVRjr xTreme

What is perhaps most exciting about Balzer’s project is his goal to use $5 from every Kickstarter pledge to create a minimum of 100 NEODiVRjr models to be shipped to children’s hospitals around the United States before Christmas. In order to ensure that the production is timely and goes smoothly, Balzer has enlisted the help of 3D printing service Shapeways to additively manufacture the plastic shell and handle of the NEODiVRjr. For the assembly, Balzer is working with Dr. Clint Slaughter, an ER physician and the CEO of the San Luis Obispo MakerSpace, and his team to assemble, paint, and package the virtual reality viewers.

"Inside Van Gogh" VR App

The reward options all include the $5 contribution to Balzer’s charitable effort, as well as the option to 3D print your own NEODiVRjr for $18 (the latter comes with a shipment that includes the optics, conductive tape, aluminium button and silicone eye tubes necessary to complete the project). To have the NEODiVRjr Basic at its set price will cost $25, and the NEODiVRjr xTreme is the reward for a $35 pledge (these do not include early bird specials).

Mike Balzer, who has dedicated his life to 3D printing and other emerging technologies, explains the source of his inspiration: “My passion has always been on how to integrate technology into the real world via simulation. I am thankful that I was born in a time where so much has a happened in so little time and humbled by all the talent, creativity and intelligence of my peers worldwide and appreciate the opportunity to add my little mark in history.”

Mike Balzer

With 3D printing and Virtual Reality technologies simultaneously growing and becoming more predominant in our lives, it is encouraging to see that the two can be combined in order to create something to ameliorate the lives of children, especially the lives of those who may be suffering. Be sure to follow the NEODiVRjr’s kickstarter campaign as it is stated to launch on November 21, 2015.

See below a video detailing the NEODiVRjr, to be watched with a VR viewer.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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