New Partnership Aims to Detect Brain Disorder Using Virtual Reality

Varjo & machineMD partner to develop a tool that assists in the early diagnosis of brain disorders.

Image credit: Varjo

Varjo, a Finnish manufacturer of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality headsets, is partnering with Swiss medical device company machineMD to develop Neos, a diagnostic tool that aims to assist in the early diagnosis of brain disorders such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, and brain tumors using built-in VR-based eye-tracking technology.

Varjo offers extended reality hardware and software with integrated eye-tracking capabilities, while machineMD develops tools for the early detection of brain disorders, reports MobiHealthNews.

Neos will combine Varjo's Aero headset with VR-based eye-tracking technology and machineMD's device that examines eye and pupil movements.

“These types of examinations of the eyes and pupils – how the eyes move, the gaze direction, the reaction of the pupils, how they're delayed – that's done all manually,” Dominic Senn, cofounder and CEO of machineMD, told MobiHealthNews. “And there are a couple of studies showing that at least with ophthalmologists and neurologists […] there are many misdiagnoses based on these type of examinations simply because they can't do the measurements right.”

Dr. Mathias Abegg, medical director at machineMD, told MobiHealthNews that the company's initial device for eye examinations was not done with headsets but with desktops, eye trackers, or big machinery, and only measured one eye. The company then discovered Varjo's eye-tracking tool which he said has the quality of measure they need.

Read more: Study Finds VR Therapeutic Reduces Pain Intensity

The Varjo video-based eye tracking system captures images of a patient's eyes at 200 Hertz while measuring pupil position, pupil dilation, interpupillary distance, focus, and eye-movement patterns. It does this by using two integrated high-speed cameras and infrared illumination.

"We can basically, through our APIs, connect that to machineMD that then can analyze it. That enables machineMD to quantify, analyze and build up a database that is basically repeatable to diagnose these conditions," Seppo Aaltonen, Chief Commercial Officer at Varjo, told MobiHealthnews. Senn added that Neos will be a tool that enables physicians' assistants to administer the test, reducing the length of time patients must wait to see a specialist and the time restrictions that come with a shrinking workforce for providers.

"With our device, they should be able to examine most patients themselves, and if there are any doubts, they can send the examination report and then a specialist can look at the report" Senn said.

Neos is currently in development. The companies aim to receive regulatory approval for market release in the U.S. or Europe and begin selling the first devices by the end of 2023.

Sam Draper
March 21, 2023

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