MASSDEVICE ON CALL — New Facebook (NSDQ:FB) target Oculus VR may have some important offerings for the healthcare world, especially in imaging-based diagnostics and immersive rehabilitation therapy.
Facebook dropped a major bomb yesterday when it announced its $2 billion bid for Oculus VR, maker of virtual reality systems that are known primarily for video game applications. The technology consists of the "Rift" headset with positional tracking that alters a user’s view based on their real-world head movements.
In an interview earlier this year with Oculus CEO Palmer Luckey, he told Popular Mechanics that researchers are developing immersive CT scans that doctors can "walk through." He cited an unnamed university medical school that purchased 20 Rift headset kits to play with, saying that "VR in general is what they see as the future of diagnostic tools."
Medical researchers are draw to the technology’s potential as well as it’s low price-tag, Luckey said.
"Instead of these systems causing hundreds of thousands of dollars and being in only the top research hospitals with only a few people working with them, it’s now only a few hundred dollars worth of gear that any medical student can start experimenting with," he said.
Born on crowd-funding site Kickstarter, were the company raised some $2.4 million, Oculus is selling a headset "development kit" for $350 apiece. The kit is intended for "developers that want to create virtual reality content for the upcoming consumer version of the Oculus Rift," according to the company’s website.
One South Carolina clinician is taking rehabilitation therapy to the next level with virtual reality programs starring the Oculus technology. Skip Rizzo, associate director for medical virtual reality at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, has been experimenting with using Rift and other virtual reality systems to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rizzo crafts "exposure therapy" sessions, putting patients through simulated battleground environments in the safety of a clinic to help erode feelings of anxiety, according to a July 2013 article in MDDI Online.
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