18 Healthcare Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Companies to Watch


Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are redefining what’s possible in healthcare, as well as other sectors. The 18 companies listed below are some of the top virtual and augmented reality companies in the medical industry. 

Defining Augmented Reality

Augmented
reality is a technology that blends real-world elements with virtual ones. For
example, a person might visit a trade show and aim their smartphone at a
display to activate an AR experience that allows them to see a
computer-generated version of a product.

This
approach is particularly useful for getting people excited about prototypes or
helping them understand the potential of any item not yet finalized. 

AR vs. VR: What’s The Difference?

Virtual reality is another buzz-worthy technology that continues to capture attention and fascinate people in the medical sector and outside of it. Although VR and AR have some similarities, they’re not the same. 

Both
technologies typically respond to real-time changes, such as how a person
moves. Thus, the technologies need extremely low latency to work seamlessly for
users. Additionally, VR and AR seek to give people experiences that are not
possible to achieve quickly in the real world alone. For example, home
furnishing brand IKEA offered an AR app that allowed people to place virtual
pieces in their homes to check dimensions. 

However,
whereas AR incorporates some versions of the actual environment into its
results, VR aims to give people a completely immersive experience that begins
once they strap on the required headsets. A person engaging with a VR
experience will see everything happening inside the headset, but the AR
experience happens by enhancing things within an individual’s environment. 

Another difference between VR and AR is that the latter arguably has a wider variety of possible applications in other industries, such as manufacturing. It’s not practical for people who are working on a factory floor to all don VR headsets. However, they may use far less cumbersome AR-enabled glasses, goggles, or screens to assist with a broad assortment of tasks ranging from quality assurance to assembly.

The Potential, Benefits and Use Cases for AR and VR in Healthcare

An
analysis from MarketsandMarkets profiled the expected growth of AR and VR in healthcare
from 2017-2025. The company anticipates a combined annual growth rate of
30.7% during
the timeframe studied.

There’s
plenty of potential for VR and AR in healthcare, but how might people use it,
specifically? Surgical planning could become easier. Even the most
experienced surgeons sometimes encounter surprises when operating on patients,
but these high-tech solutions may make those instances less common.

Researchers
have investigated using VR to educate patients
before
their surgeries, too. For example, a person can see a digitized version of
their brain, along with the problem a surgeon needs to fix and how they will do
it. 

Beyond teaching patients about the procedures they need, VR and AR can help surgeons plan their interventions, making them less likely to encounter surprises or feel unprepared. Some technologies show digital information appearing on top of a patient’s body in real-time. 

Also,
these technologies could improve training in medical school. Researchers at
Johns Hopkins University embarked on an AR project that could see medical
students trade their anatomy apps for AR. An augmented reality tool displayed an internal view
of the body
on top of a student’s physique. The technology also included a
gesture-sensitive user interface, allowing people to interact with the AR representation. 

The Top Augmented and Virtual Reality Companies in Healthcare

The
promises of medical augmented reality and virtual reality are compelling enough
to get anyone excited about what’s possible. These companies intend to be at
the forefront of VR and AR healthcare.

1. FundamentalVR

FundamentalVR Inks 3-Year Partnership with Mayo Clinic to Co-Develop Surgical VR Simulations, Raises Additional $1.4M

Founded: 2012

Location: London, United Kingdom

Funding to Date: $9.6 million

Key Clients/Milestones: FundamentalVR was named one of Time Magazine’s best inventions for 2018 and got an Interactive Innovation Award at SXSW 2019. All of FundamentalVR’s simulations are accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons of England. The company also has a joint development agreement with the Mayo Clinic. 

This
company offers flight simulator-like training for surgeons. The approach allows
them to rehearse, practice and improve their surgical techniques in a
controlled environment that includes haptic elements for tactile feedback.
Although the company has many virtual reality simulations, it also offers AR tech using Microsoft’s HoloLens technology. It allows users to work together
through the simulations.

2. Karuna Labs

Founded:  2016

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding to Date: $3 million

Key Clients/Milestones: Products are HIPAA-compliant and FDA-registered. 

The
company uses evidence-based approaches to treat chronic pain through virtual
reality simulations. Patients can do the treatment at home or in a local
clinic. If done in a clinic, the treatment program lasts from four to 12 weeks
based on the patient’s individual needs.

3. OxfordVR

UK-Based Startup Oxford VR Nabs $12.5M to Expand Augmented VR Therapy Platform into the U.S.

Founded: 2016

Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

Funding to Date: £13.2 million

Key Clients/Milestones:  It has partnerships with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, as well as the McPin Foundation, which works to improve mental health research. OxfordVR also won the 2020 award in the Apps and Software category for Best Mental Health Immersive Technology at the MedTech Visionaries Awards.

OxfordVR
focuses on virtual reality to relieve the symptoms of mental disorders and
fears. For example, its fear of heights simulation reduced the issue in
patients by an average of 68%
after only two hours of treatment. 

4. Augmedics

Augmedics Lands $15M for FDA-Cleared Augmented Reality Guidance System for Surgery

Founded: 2014

Location:  Arlington Heights, Illinois, and Yoqneam, Israel

Funding to Date: $25.1 million

Key Clients/Milestones: The company has received FDA 501(k) clearance for its headset. It will begin distributing its headsets throughout the U.S in early 2020 and plans to move into uses beyond spinal surgeries soon.

The
company has what it calls “the first augmented reality guidance system for
surgery,” known as xvision. The technology adds a 3D representation that
enables surgeons to see the patient’s anatomy through skin and tissue as if
they had X-ray vision. When tested as surgeons placed spinal screws in
cadavers, the accuracy rate while using the VR headset was 98.9%.

5. Surgical Theater

Surgical-Theater-Virtual Reality Platform

Founded: 2010

Location: Los Angeles, California, and Cleveland, Ohio

Funding to Date: $9.6 million

Key Clients/Milestones: The Mayo Clinic, UCLA School of Medicine, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital and the Stanford School of Medicine are among the places that have used the company’s technology so far.

Surgical
Theater created a “surgical rehearsal platform” for neurosurgical
procedures called Precision VR. It allows for better preoperative planning.
However, unlike some medical technology companies, this one has simulations a
patient can go through with their health provider. For example, if a person
faces an operation for a brain tumor, they can see a VR scenario that shows the
process. 

6. EchoPixel

Founded: 2012

Location: Santa Clara, California

Funding to Date: $14.3 million

Key Clients/Milestones: It has received FDA clearance. Institutions including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Primary Children’s Hospital, C.S. Mott Hospital, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have brought the technology into clinical use. 

The
company offers an AR healthcare platform called True3D that facilitates
visualizing and interacting with the organs and tissue for a specific patient.
Users can also see medical imaging results along with the holograph-like images
provided by the technology. 

7. Medivis

Founded: 2016

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Funding to Date: $2.5 million

Key Clients/Milestones: Medivis counts Verizon, Microsoft and Magic Leap among its industry partners. Medivis also recently launched its program for patients using the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at the VA Palo Alto Medical Center. The goal of that initiative is to identify health applications that combine with 5G technology. West Coast also used the Medivs platform to help medical students learn anatomy. 

The company
combines medical augmented reality with artificial intelligence (AI) to provide
helpful presurgical information or details related to a person’s anatomy. It
envisions a time when healthcare providers can break free of the limitations
posed by 2D screens and instead bring information and tools to the real world
through 3D representations. 

8. Health Scholars

Founded: 2017

Location: Westminster, Colorado

Funding to Date: $17
million

Key Clients/Milestones: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Michigan Health System, and Eastern Virginia Medical Center are some of the facilities that have used the Health Scholars platform so far. 

Health Scholars offers VR medical training covering surgical skills, obstetrics, and resuscitation. The company also provides a learning management interface that enables educators to create simulations for students to use. 

9. Vicarious Surgical

Founded: 2015

Location: Charlestown, Massachusetts

Funding to Date: $30 million

Key Clients/Milestones: It was the first surgical robot to receive FDA Breakthrough designation. Bill Gates is one of the company’s backers. 

The
company combines virtual reality with a surgical robot to result in minimally
invasive procedures. 

10. Touch Surgery

Founded: 2013

Location: London, United Kingdom

Funding to Date: $19.5 million.

Key Clients/Milestones: Touch Surgery received the Amazon Web Services Hot Startups Award, and it also got a Brandon Hall Silver Award in 2014. Residency programs at the Cleveland Clinic, Stanford School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital, and others use Touch Surgery’s technology for training. 

Touch
Surgery offers more than 200 VR surgical simulations and videos across 17
specialties that learners can access anywhere with an internet connection. 

11. Proprio Vision

Founded: 2016

Location: Seattle, Washington

Funding to Date: $30 million

Key Clients/Milestones: Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington’s Department of Neurological Surgery are two of the company’s clinical research partners. 

The
company blends human vision with computerized technology, enabling surgeons to
see the body in new, immersive ways and improving the success rates of their
procedures. 

12. ImmersiveTouch

Founded: 2005

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Funding to Date: $2.1 million

Key Clients/Milestones: The Cleveland Clinic, University of Calgary, Tufts University School of Medicine, and Johns Hopkins Medicine were some of the early adopters of ImmersiveTouch’s technology. 

ImmersiveTouch
creates 3D virtual reality models using a patient’s individualized medical
imaging data. 

13. OSSO VR

Osso VR Brings Film Industry Level Quality VR Surgical Training to OR

Founded: 2016

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Funding to Date: $2 million

Key Clients/Milestones: OSSO VR was involved in a pilot program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and was a DocsF18 Innovation Award Winner.

This
company specializes in using virtual reality to facilitate surgical training
and assessments. It offers fully immersive VR experiences, complete with haptic
feedback. 

14. SentiAR

Founded: 2017

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Funding to Date: $7.4 million

Key Clients/Milestones: Was named one of the Top 10 Cardiovascular Device Companies in 2019 by Med Tech Outlook

This
company uses medical augmented reality to create a holographic visualization of
a patient’s anatomy. That image floats over the patient during interventional
procedures, such as while treating cardiac arrhythmias in a catheter
lab. 

15. Medical Augmented Intelligence

Founded: 2016

Location: Taipei City, Taiwan, and Fairfax, Virginia

Funding to Date: $500,000

Key Clients/Milestones: Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau, and the Davao Medical School Foundation are some of the company’s clients. Medical Augmented Intelligence counts Intel, NVIDIA, and Vive among its technology partners. 

Medical
Augmented Intelligence offers immersive virtual reality training for anatomy
and acupuncture, plus “digital twin” models for patient education.
The patient-based models convert 2D medical images to VR models in less than 30
seconds. 

16. HoloAnatomy

Developed: 2016

Location: Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic

Cost: The HoloAnatomy app is free, but the Microsoft HoloLens device that enables the app costs $3,000.

Key Clients/Milestones: It was a winner at the 2016 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival Science Media Awards

Although
most of this list consists of the top augmented and virtual reality healthcare
companies, this entry is a bit different because it’s an app. When using a
Microsoft HoloLens device, people can go through a digitized, interactive
anatomy curriculum. 

17. SyncThink

Founded: 2009 

Location: Palo Alto, California

Funding to Date: $3.6 million

Key Clients/Milestones: The SyncThink headset received FDA clearance. Massachusetts General Hospital, Children’s National Medical Center, and Georgia Tech University are some of the clients this company has on its roster. 

SyncThink devoted 15 years of clinical research to develop a virtual reality headset called the EYE-SYNC. It tracks a person’s eye movements and helps clinicians determine if they have a concussion. 

18. XR Health

XRHealth, VirZOOM Partner to Transform the Power of Virtual Reality Exercise for Providers and Patients

Founded: 2016

Funding
to Date:
$15.5
million

Key
Clients/Milestones:
XRHealth is currently utilized at hospitals across the globe,
including Sheba Medical Center, Stanford Sports Medicine, Spaulding
Rehabilitation Network, Hoag Hospital Network, and Mass General Hospital’s
Sports Medicine Center.

 XRHealth is the first company to create virtual reality
clinics that provide remote care to patients throughout the United States and
is covered by most major health insurance companies as well as medicare. One of
the unique features that VR therapy provides is virtual support groups, where
patients with similar conditions can connect anonymously and remotely with
leading physicians moderating the group.

An Exciting Future for AR and VR in Healthcare

Even
in these relatively early stages, virtual reality and augmented reality have
drastically reshaped what’s possible in the medical field. The top augmented
reality companies listed above are proof of the pioneering viewpoints held by
many of the dedicated people working diligently to hone these technologies. 

Even
if healthcare providers are not using these technologies in their practices,
they should stay abreast of this progress. It likely won’t be long before AR
and VR are as familiar to medical professionals as many of the tools and
techniques they could not imagine living without today.



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