Saturday, June 04, 2016

Toronto Based Good Vibrations Engineering Sells to the Mayo Clinic

          By Brian Orlotti

A Toronto firm is supplying parts for a patented technology to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, which is using the technology to create a tool able to mitigate the effects of simulators, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets, plus improve the health of the elderly.

Dr. Jan Stepanek from the Mayo Clinic provides a high level overview of  the vMocion 3v, in this March 29th, 2016 video. To see the entire video, simply click on the photo. Screenshot c/o The Mayo Clinic.

In March, as outlined in the March 30th, 2016 Mayo Clinic press release, "Mayo Clinic and vMocion Introduce Technology which Creates the Sensation of Motion, Transforming Virtual Reality," the Clinic announced the market debut (via spinoff firm vMocion LLC) of the vMocion 3v platform, a headset device which can induce a realtime sense of 3D motion in a person even when they are standing still.

The vMocion 3v makes use of a technology called galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS).  In GVS, an electrical current is used to stimulate a person's vestibular system (a sensory system located in the inner ear that governs the human body's sense of motion and balance). With this electrical current, GVS enables a person to feel motion when viewing video, playing a game or using virtual/augmented reality devices while stationary.

Good Vibrations CEO Draisey. Photo c/o Smallsat Conference.
GVS tech also holds the promise of aiding the elderly with balance or disorientation problems.

Its makers claim that the vMocion 3v can eliminate the effects of "simulator sickness," a form of motion sickness that affects some individuals when using vehicle simulators or virtual/augmented-reality headsets. Simulator sickness is thought to be caused by the sensory conflict that occurs when a person views moving imagery without the human body's physical cues of actually being in motion.

Toronto, Ontario based Good Vibrations Engineering (GVE) designed a component of the vMocion 3v called the vestibulator, which injects small currents behind the ears of a person to stimulate the vestibular system.

GVE was founded in 1992 by former SPAR Aerospace engineer Sherry Draisey, whose resume includes work on the Canadarm, solar arrays and various satellites.

From a marketing perspective, GVS technology may be "in the right place at the right time."

Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive as well as Augmented Reality devices like the Microsoft HoloLens now entering the consumer market seek to revolutionize the technology industry. GVS could both mitigate the health issues some experience with these devices in general use and increase the immersion factor of games and video.

"Reality denied comes back to haunt," said Philip K. Dick in his 1974 science fiction novel on the theme of alternative realities, "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said." The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to either the publisher, Doubleday, or the cover artist. Graphic c/o Wikipedia.

GVS could complement other measures taken by VR/AR device makers to mitigate health issues, such as using high frame rates (90 plus frames per second) in their displays.

Brian Orlotti.
VR and AR technology stand ready to change both our work and play, while GVE promises to ease the transition.

Brian Orlotti is a network operations centre analyst at Shomi, a Canadian provider of on-demand internet streaming media and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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