FundamentalVR, an immersive simulation platform for medical and healthcare professions, has raised $20 million in a funding round to “accelerate the transfer of skills and surgical proficiency” through virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) applications.
Despite its decades-long promise, VR hasn’t traveled too far outside of gaming circles or niche industrial use cases, although this is something Meta and its Big Tech ilk are aggressively trying to change. However, among the industries that to have long embraced VR for its medicine and healthcare. For example, in 2009 a neurosurgeon in Canada used a VR-based simulator to conduct a test of real brain tumor surgery in what was considered a world first at the time. More recently, VR has been used in a variety of healthcare scenarios, from treating social anxiety and other mental illnesses to surgical training.
Medical simulation serves as a powerful example of how VR and related MR systems are making a meaningful societal impact beyond the mainstream, with such technologies now regularly used to train new doctors or help surgeons maintain existing skills and develop new procedures. to learn. Research and Markets data suggests that the healthcare and medical simulation market is a $2 billion industry today, a figure expected to double within five years — and this is something FundamentalVR aims to capitalize on.
Founded in London in 2012, FundamentalVR is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that combines VR with haptics to give medical processionals access to training such as orthopedic joint/spine procedures; anterior total hip replacement (A-THR); posterior total hip replacement (P-THR); total knee replacement (TKA); facetectomies; and more.
At the heart of the company’s so-called Fundamental Surgery platform is what it calls HapticVR, which makes virtual procedures more lifelike through physical sensory feedback — HapticVR is compatible with countless handheld devices, including haptic gloves and purpose-built controllers.
It is worth noting that the company can provide the hardware when specific partners and institutions require it as part of a commercial agreement, but for the most part FundamentalVR is the engine and interface for companies’ own existing hardware – this includes VR headsets such as Oculus Quest and HTC Vive, as well as MR platforms such as Holo Lens and Magic Leap.
“It is designed to be hardware agnostic and work with any laptop, VR headset, and haptic equipment readily available on the open market from Amazon or specialty electrical stores,” Richard Vincent, CEO of FundamentalVR, explains to MovieUpdates. . “This makes the solutions highly scalable and affordable.”
In addition, FundamentalVR allows an unlimited number of users to communicate in virtual classrooms and operating rooms around the world.
There are plenty of players in the burgeoning medical simulation space, such as Medical Realities, ImmersiveTouch, and OssoVR, with the latter recently closing a $66 million funding round. Vincent is adamant, however, that it’s his more holistic, lifelike haptics that really set him apart – it combines skin (tactile vibrations) with kinesthetics, including power, feedback and positional haptics.
“Surgery is a multisensory skill — touch is critical to enabling the surgeon to learn and perform procedures and a requirement to really acquire surgical skills,” Vincent said. “However, not all haptics are created equal, and there is a huge difference between skin and kinesthetic haptics technology and how it can be used. While VR simulations with cutaneous feedback are competent in medical education and training to help acquire knowledge, the addition of ‘full-force’ haptics now enables skill acquisition.”
FundamentalVR’s customers include medical institutions, device manufacturers, and even pharmaceutical companies bringing new therapies to market — including Swiss-American multinational corporation Novartis, which used FundamentalVR to create a haptic simulation for a sub-retinal injection. Other clients include Mayo Clinic, NYU Langone, and UCLA in the US; UCLH and Imperial College in the UK; and Sana Kliniken, a network of teaching hospitals in Germany.
FundamentalVR’s latest round of funding was led by EQT Life Sciences, with the participation of Taking down ventures. The company has now raised just over $30 million in total.