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Billion Dollar Unicorns: MindMaze Channels Virtual Reality into Healing

Posted on Friday, Jul 8th 2016

According to a report by Global Industry Analysts, the global market for Virtual Reality (VR) in Healthcare is estimated to be worth $3.8 billion by 2020. The United States is expected to be the largest market globally driven by increasing spend on R&D and investments in VR technology by government and private companies. Meanwhile, Asia-Pacific is projected to be the fastest growing market with a growth rate of 23.2% annually. Billion Dollar Unicorn club member MindMaze is a leading player in this market.

MindMaze’s Offerings

Ecublens, Switzerland-based MindMaze was founded by neuroscientist Tej Tadi. Prior to founding MindMaze, Tej was a senior scientist at Switzerland’s prestigious École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). During his PhD at the institute, he set up an immersive virtual reality system in combination with brain imaging technologies to help deliver trans-disciplinary work in cognitive psychology, neuroimaging, and virtual reality. In 2011, he set up MindMaze to design and develop applications in Neuro-Rehabilitation, Game training and Interfaces with the intention of setting up a service to help with neurology, psychiatry, and sports rehabilitation.

Today, MindMaze operates an online platform that delivers an intuitive human machine interface to integrate virtual reality, computer graphics, brain imaging, and neuroscience. Its medical grade virtual reality platform is able to help patients by stimulating neural recovery and has proven to heal patients faster than traditional physical therapy.

MindMaze’s technology uses a motion-sensing camera that projects the patient’s avatar onto VR goggles. The patient then has as many as 32 electrodes placed on the head to command the virtual arm or leg to perform a task. Its technology helps reactivate damaged neurons in a patient’s brain. The first-of-its-kind multisensory technology from MindMaze has been commercialized for stroke and brain-injury survivors and with its regulatory approvals, it is able to accelerate placement of devices in Europe and Asia.

After its initial success in the medical industry, MindMaze decided to venture into the consumer market. In the virtual reality (VR) space the company offers a lightweight, wearable Head Mounted Display (HMD) and 3D motion capture camera to deliver virtual reality, gesture, and multiple object or user recognition capabilities. Within game technology, its high-resolution motion capture sensors provide position and orientation to enable real-time mapping of movement onto virtual characters.

MindMaze’s Financials

MindMaze is privately held and does not disclose its financials. According to Xconomy, the company has received orders for 9 of its devices so far from hospitals and it plans to take that number to 20 this year. Last year, the company had raised $8.5 million in venture funding from India’s Hinduja Group and Swiss Government grants. Earlier this year, it raised $100 million in a round that valued it at $1 billion. The investment was again made by Hinduja Group. The investment will help MindMaze continue to build on its product portfolio.

Virtual reality in healthcare is still in a very nascent stage as companies are still experimenting areas where the technology can be used successfully. Companies like Virtually Better offer stimuli to patients to treat stress and trauma related issues. DeepStream VR offers virtual reality apps to help distract burn patients from pain for their treatment. Another big utilization of the technology in the field is for training: The Royal London Hospital allows doctors to showcase surgeries through 3D cameras for training purposes.

More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. Unicorns will also be discussed with some special guests during our 1M/1M Roundtable programs over the next few weeks. To be a part of the conversation, please register here. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.

Photo credit: Pargon /Flickr.com

This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns


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