The virtual reality (VR) revolution started back in the early 1990s as a new way to play video games, sparking the interest and imaginations of millions of people. However, public interest in VR languished as technological and engineering barriers prevented it from going mainstream.
VR-related developments have accelerated in the last few years, however—with the world entering what many are calling the Virtual Reality Renaissance: an explosion of new ideas and technologies that bring VR applications not only to gaming, but to other fields like medical treatment and training. The following are 11 healthcare and medical startups building VR-related products or services.
Using motion capture sensors, Mindmaze’s VR environment allows patients to undergo therapeutic exercise training regimes while providing accurate and real-time feedback to their doctors.
BioFlight is used to simulate surgical procedures and utilization of medical devices with a full 3D rendering of a patient’s body. The solution is compatible with Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, and Microsoft HoloLens.
Designed for patients with burn injuries, Firsthand Technology’s SnowWorld uses VR gaming to help reduce the pain and anxiety related to wound care and other hospital procedures.
DEEP uses an Oculus Rift and a custom controller—consisting of a device that measures diaphragm expansion—to help users learn how to control breathing in a simulated underwater world, thereby alleviating anxiety, stress, and depression.
Using FOVE—a Japanese VR Headset—people with limited or no mobility in their hands and legs can use this solution to learn to play the piano as part of treatment and recovery. The headset tracks eye positioning and blinking to trigger piano keys and notes.
To help eliminate panic in patients with PTSD, anxiety disorders and phobias such as arachnophobia and claustrophobia, the VRMC is using virtual reality therapy the treat their patients. This therapy mixes VR with psychological monitoring for a more accurate feedback.
Consisting of a 24” HD display, a precision 3-button VR stylus, and a powerful Alienware Area 51 PC, zSpace’s solution is used by customers to recreate anatomical objects and procedures. The unit comes with over 13,000 anatomical objects in its VR object library.
This VR platform is used for treating veterans suffering from PTSD. It simulates environments like the Middle East and deserts roads to help soldiers overcome their fears in safe and controlled conditions. The solution uses a VR headset, 3D audio, vibrations, and even olfactory sensations for a highly immersive experience.
This device helps amputees overcome phantom limb pain by simulating the lost body part in a VR environment. It uses electrodes to detect muscle signals activated through simple thoughts.
ImmersiveTouch generates virtual anatomical models with visual, tactile, and audio sensations, giving medical practitioners an accurate representation of a patients body—highly useful for both training and simulation purposes. For example, doctors can perform “test runs” to determine the best course of action for surgery and other procedures.
Medical Realities’ The Virtual Surgeon uses a 360° camera to transmit VR images to a headset. The first VR recording device for use in medical settings, The Virtual Surgeon is used by professors for instructional/training purposes.
Currently, the medical and healthcare fields are seeing some of the more compelling use cases and applications for VR—taking advantage of the technology’s inherent versatility, accuracy, and immersion capabilities. The preceding 11 products and solutions are just a glimpse of things to come in this rapidly expanding space.