With Virtual Reality, Caregivers Can Become Patients

“What I try to do with Embodied Labs is to provide that understanding gap, so people can get to that point faster than I did,” she said. “It’s the convergence of aging, emerging technology and the need to transform our work force training methods in health and aging care.”

Start-up funds to develop the platform and the software came from a handful of angel investors, friends and family. In addition, Ms. Shaw competed for grants and no-interest loans and received $250,000 as the 2018 winner of the XR Education Prize Challenge funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This year, the company received seed funding of $3.2 million from several venture capital funds, including the WXR Fund, which invests in women entrepreneurs and in the next wave of computing.

“The opportunities for immersive technology in health care are vast and span telehealth, therapeutics and diagnostics, training and more,” said Martina Welkhoff, co-founder and managing partner of the WXR Fund.

“Humans instinctively communicate and learn in 3-D, so immersive technology is particularly powerful in complex, high-stakes systems such as health care,” she said.

The company sells a kit of hardware plus a software license to over 100 subscribers, including senior living communities like Benedictine Health System and Front Porch; GreatCall, which sells senior cellphones, medical alert systems and mobile medical alerts; as well as over 40 universities and medical schools; and government aging agencies. Ms. Shaw estimates subscription revenues of $1 million this year.

“The Embodied Labs technology puts you into the shoes of the patient and you also see what the disease is going to look like over time,” said Mary Furlong, a consultant on health care and longevity marketing. “It’s not just a science project; it is a viable market,” she said. “What’s striking about Carrie’s work is that she can train people in call centers, train people in senior housing and in home-care multilevel channels that makes a business work.”