Video game headset finds new uses in health care

A breakthrough in video game technology is now finding a home in the field of health care.
April 25, 2014 10:26:11 PM PDT
A breakthrough in video game technology is now finding a home in the field of health care.

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset drew crowds at the Game Developers' Conference and the small startup was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.

It was built for entertainment, but San Francisco-based Viscira has other ideas. They make animated teaching tools for health care companies. They're usually shown on a screen, but imagine being in one.

"You really feel like you're in a different world," Viscira President and CEO Dave Gulezian said. "And you're able to look around and navigate and move -- and in fact, it can be a little disorienting, because you're really taken to another place."

For the doctors and caregivers who go through this training, it's not about seeing and hearing, it's about feeling.

"To put yourself in the mind of an actual individual that's suffering from schizophrenia; but the goal there was to really provoke empathy from the user," Viscira Motion Graphics Director Eric Duplessis said.

Experiencing schizophrenia is just the beginning of what Viscira plans to do with oculus. Another application is traveling inside the human body.

Though it's not the first time virtual reality's been used to teach science, it is the first time it's been this affordable. The early Oculus headsets are just $350.


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