A company focused on developing virtual reality (VR) therapy treatments will turn to artificial intelligence (AI) to create immersive environments that could revolutionize therapy treatment, especially for the elderly and those with mobility issues.
“We want to bring the world to residents who otherwise can’t experience the world,” MyndVR’s Chief Operating Officer Dave Rawlins told Fox News Digital.
“A lot of what we do is 360 content, provide experiences and applications, modules that give a resident the opportunity to potentially get out of the four walls of the facility, whether that be in travel or Broadway shows or experiencing things that they may have experienced in their earlier life,” Rawlins explained.
Launched in 2016, MyndVR developed lightweight VR headsets that allow users to engage in gamified environments that help them relax and distract them from a therapy session or boost their moods by leaving their homes to do things they are unable to physically do anymore.
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Janet Anding, left, and others watch a virtual reality show broadcast to their MyndVR virtual reality headsets at John Knox Village June 1, 2021, in Pompano Beach, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The system is already in use in a variety of settings, usually in the recovery phase of inpatient rehab centers or the recreational room of an assisted living home where a director or caregiver works with seniors.
The newest sectors the company has targeted include hospice care and home health, which is bringing the product into a non-health care environment but still helping a much-deprived population.
“We are today deployed in just over 400 facilities. So, we obviously have a pretty large installed base today, but one that’s growing and one that, as we look to address these particular subsectors, we’re very excited about the opportunity,” he said.
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MyndVR also has found a place helping veterans cope with PTSD and provide “emotional comfort, cognitive engagement” to a population that has “earned this technology,” the company said in a press release following collaboration with Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL) last year.
Andrea Hipskind and John Dalsimer watch a virtual reality puppy show broadcast to their MyndVR virtual reality headsets at John Knox Village June 1, 2021, in Pompano Beach, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The company proudly touts its place as the leading VR technology for older users, with lighter-weight headsets and external controls with a tablet that counselors use to control the session and experience, tailoring it to the user’s needs.
Rawlins acknowledged the obvious comparison to Oculus but argued that Oculus targets a “principally younger audience” compared to what MyndVR wants, and the interaction with a counselor creates a “bonding” experience for the user.
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Connectivity is the focus of the technology, which is why MyndVR wants to implement AI processing to help improve performance and realism in environments, ultimately aiming for the ability to recreate concert experiences or live shows for users.
MyndVR would ultimately look to allow those in a health care site to interact with family members or friends in other facilities within the virtual world, engaging in activities like fishing or gardening within a digital space, something AI could make a reality.
Researchers will study older adults’ use of virtual reality and its effects on their psychological well-being and attitudes toward new technologies. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
But the company would not look to use AI to populate an environment with fake people, which Rawlins indicated would go against the company’s core mission.
“The more powerful tool would be to actually allow people to connect more broadly outside of the walls of the facility rather than necessarily using AI as a separate kind of special avatar,” he stressed.
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“The key to doing this correctly is making sure we have love, care and compassion as a big part of that, and we never want to outsource our care of our seniors to a machine.”
“We know that the number of patients is going down, the number of seniors is going up. So, we can find ways to use AI to provide companionship and tools for seniors in a way that is … using love, care and compassion. I think that’s very exciting for us.”
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news.