Mixed Reality and the Future of Healthcare

by Kristen Hanich | Jan. 9, 2017

Some of the most interesting news to come out of CES this year had to do with virtual reality. With the upcoming release of the Windows Holographic System and VR headsets for around $300, it seems like 2017 may be the year that VR goes mainstream. But what does this mean for fitness and healthcare?

One example of what we can expect in terms of fitness is VirZOOM. The VirZOOM platform includes a stationary bicycle that works in combination with a VR headset and accompanying software for a gamified exercise experience. Cyclists can peddle along as they engage each other in virtual combat as tanks, race along on Pegasuses (Pegasi?), or just compete with other users on a virtual course. VirZOOM's platform works with headsets from HTC, Oculus, and Playstation and fitness trackers from Strava and Fitbit. Support for mobile VR, such as Samsung's Gear VR and Google Daydream, is coming in 2017.  VirZOOM's VR bike can be purchased online or accessed through a network of real-world locations called vSports Centers. It isn't hard to imagine a future where the endless line of TVs at the gym are replaced by an endless line of VR headsets. Or, for the germ-phobic, their own phones.

On the medical side of things, health education and patient engagement players are beginning to get involved in VR. One of the most notable is BioLucid's YOU® platform, now part of ShareCare. YOU® uses the HTC VIVE to take users on a medically accurate journey through the human body, using visual storytelling for health education. ShareCare has promised to expand YOU® to more VR platforms, as well as use its underlying technology to create personalized and interactive VR-based medical records. This technology may prove to be highly useful to both patients and clinicians.

2017 represents an opportunity for players to get involved in what may prove to be a lucrative market. Like mobile in the mid-00's and the early 10's, the VR/AR market will attempt to displace what came before it. The next several years will likely be a period of experimentation where players will see what works and what doesn't. Those who succeed will stand to dominate the market for years to come.

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Next: TytoCare and Partron’s Personal Health Hub Designs are Standouts at CES 2017
Previous: Fitbit and Qualcomm Life’s UnitedHealthcare partnership may signal a healthy corporate wellness market in 2017

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