Virtual reality goes to the hospital

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Virtual reality goes to the hospital

Samsung Electronics is developing virtual reality-based health management programs with Yonsei University Gangnam Severance Hospital and local VR content producer FNI.

The three signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday to develop a new IT infrastructure for the medical sector to use VR technology. Initial projects include developing a diagnosis program that analyzes patients’ mental state via VR and applications that educate and motivate patients to recover from mental health problems.

“The new program will be able to diagnose the possibility of suicide and also offer suitable treatment for mental instability,” the Korean electronics giant said in a statement.

The high-tech health care programs will be based on Samsung’s technology to produce VR headgear, FNI’s VR content producing capability and the hospital’s massive amounts of medical data. According to the electronics company, the programs can be used in hospitals, by local governments and schools and also at home.

Samsung also wants to explore medical uses for its Gear S3 smartwatch and its digital personal assistant Bixby.

“VR technology has been applied to various business sectors and smart health care sector is one of the spotlighted sectors,” a spokesperson from Samsung said. “We will continue to expand partnerships with companies with expertise in VR-related services.”

Yonsei University Gangnam Severance Hospital has been operating a VR clinic since 2005 and working on diverse medical technologies to apply VR.

FNI has been producing VR-content used to help people quit smoking and end addictions to internet games since its foundation in 2006. FNI said VR-based medical technology can be effective in treating depression, addiction and anxiety disorders.

The VR-based health management program is scheduled to be commercialized by next year, Samsung said.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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