MindMaze, a Swiss company that uses virtual reality to help stroke victims through their recovery, has raised $100 million in funding to bring its product to the United States. The Hinduja Group, a global conglomerate that has invested since the company's early stages, led the round.
The company's software uses optical motion tracking, similar in form factor to the Microsoft Kinect. For stroke victims who have lost the use of the left hand but retain the use of the right, for instance, the computer will project a virtual reality depiction of the nonfunctional left hand, which is controlled by the patient's movement of the working right hand. This can trick the brain into kickstarting the functionality of the other hand.
"MindMaze's next-generation human-machine interface is already proving itself in healthcare, games, and its potential for applications in transportation, defense and various types of media are now ready to be truly explored," a Hinduja Group spokesperson said in a statement. "We are excited to help MindMaze build on its achievements, while seeing that both current and future partners have their collective visions realized."
MindMaze's technology is already approved for use with a CE Mark in Europe, where it costs around $30 a month per patient according to CNET, which also reports that the company plans to have its software through the FDA and available in the US by the end of the year. Bloomberg said last May that, for hospital licenses, the technology costs $85,000 to purchase or a minimum of $2,500 a month to rent. Bloomberg also reported the company's plans to release a home version.
There are a number of areas in healthcare where virtual reality has promise: training doctors and surgeons, immersive telemedicine visits, or new kinds of indoor fitness programs, to name a few. We wrote a little bit about this potential when Facebook acquired Oculus Rift in 2014 (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg casually mentioned telemedicine as a future application of VR at the time).
Additionally, a number of companies have looked into motion-tracking technology for various healthcare use cases, and many of those companies are just now starting to get FDA clearance. Seattle, Washington-based Jintronix got cleared in May 2015, West Health spinoff Reflexion Health got its clearance in November, and Israeli startup Biogaming got FDA clearance last week.