VR Platform Helps Patients Escape Pain And Anxiety
Intuitive, high-tech headset lets users control immersive experiences and games with their eyes
Northpass Immersive today launched BELLA VR, an intuitive Virtual Reality platform that helps patients reduce pain and anxiety by escaping with virtual experiences. With breakthrough, high-tech innovations—it is the first and only VR platform in the healthcare space to use gaze-based navigation—BELLA offers unparalleled comfort, visual presentation and ease of use for both patients and healthcare professionals.
Compact and lightweight (the unit weighs in at less than one pound), BELLA is the antidote to the current crop of bulky and uncomfortable VR headsets/ goggles on the market. With no wires and no controller, BELLA, (which consists of three parts, including a Samsung phone), is simple to strap on and easy to use. Patients choose from multiple experiences, including a canoe trip, a breathtaking hot-air balloon ride over New Mexico, a scenic trip up the gondola at Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies and a live quartet concert. Coming soon is Find Fiona: an interactive game where patients search for a bouncing baby elephant who shows up in a variety of fun and playful scenes.
BELLA can be used in English, Spanish and multiple other languages. Subtitles in 15 different languages are currently available.
BELLA VR offers several firsts for VR in a medical setting:
Gaze-based navigation. While many VR devices operate via controller, BELLA is controlled entirely by the user’s gaze; the patient simply looks at the experience they want. “We were determined to eliminate the controller, because if you hit a wrong button and you can’t see the remote it causes lots of problems and frustrations,” says Northpass Immersive co-founder and president Reid Bangert.
Auto-horizon adjust. Many Virtual Reality users complain that they can’t use the device while lying down. BELLA solves this problem by calibrating and adjusting the unit’s horizon to match the patient’s current angle. “This is a huge breakthrough,” says Bangert. “If you are sitting at a 45-degree angle without the auto-horizon adjust, you have to look down to be level in the experience. If you are flat on your back, you’d have to look completely down your body to get the full experience. We wanted patients to be able to relax completely.”
BELLA makes life easier for hospital staff. “It leaves almost zero footprint and can be used in a matter of seconds, without frustration, an important factor in the busy healthcare environment,” says Bangert.
Another plus for healthcare providers: with a specialized, non-porous coating, BELLA is easy to clean. “We talked extensively with medical professionals who told us that the padding on the interior of other [VR] platforms is so soft that it is difficult to sanitize. BELLA can be cleaned using only a Sani-Wipe and is quickly ready to use again,” says Bangert.
“The integration of interactivity, visibility and seamlessness; that’s what we set out to develop—and we did it,” says Bangert, adding that the development team sought feedback from local hospital administrators and medical professionals.
Multiple Studies confirm that Virtual Reality can help patients cope with pain and anxiety in a wide range of clinical settings. This includes a University of Washington study that found immersive VR is an effective non-pharmacologic, pain reduction technique in the pediatric burn population and a University of Hartford study that concluded that VR distraction may be a “useful tool for clinicians who work with a variety of pain problems.”
Bella VR is a platform that benefits patients from 9 to 90. “We are seeing a lot of interest in Pre-Op, in the ER, and in the oncology unit,” adds co-founder and CEO Kurt Bangert. “For us it was all about going beyond the hospital walls. If we could transport a patient to Banff National Park or a beautiful beach in the Caribbean, we could make the entire healthcare experience a more positive and engaging one.”