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MIT Startup Rethinks VR For An Unlikely Target

By: Tom

In any competitive marketplace, making waves is important—and the bigger the better. Often, the difference between making waves and merely weathering the storm hinges on whether your company embraces a simple concept: the story. At TDH, we love a good story. And a story that solves problems? Well, we love that even more.

That’s why we’re big fans of MIT startup Rendever Health. Recently, the company made headlines by launching an initiative to bring virtual reality programs to local nursing homes.

After discovering that social interactions among senior living residents often stem from the sharing of new experiences and life stories, Rendever’s founders jumped at the opportunity to provide local seniors with just that—experiences worth sharing. These seniors are now filling their days with “visits” to childhood homes and exotic locales—Norma Gorman, an 88-year old participant, scratched Venice off her travel wish list just last month—all from the comfort of their own communities. Since virtual reality technology is highly portable and requires little mobility from the user, it’s a well-paired (if unexpected) match for the young startup’s older clientele.

In addition to the program’s clear entertainment value, the founders are also in talks with Massachusetts General Hospital and Northwell Health to explore the benefits of involving virtual reality in cognitive therapy studies for seniors. While medical researchers are still working to identify how they will actually use the technology, they do see virtual reality as a potentially beneficial tool for replicating real life scenarios in order to safely assess a patient’s emotions or coping mechanisms in stress-inducing situations.

In this way, Rendever is translating what would otherwise be an exclusive must-have for young tech geeks into an accessible, life-changing product for demographics across the age map. It’s a heartwarming tale, it solves a real need, and it’s downright innovative to boot.

Kudos, Rendever Health. We’ll be watching!

06.13.16   

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