Virtual reality (VR) has already begun to see use in a variety of medical areas, including addiction treatment, training, stress relief and surgical assistance. While still not mainstream it is still a large growth are for VR. A new report by ABI Research suggests this growth will continue.
The report indicates that the rise in interest in medical VR is being driven by a variety of interests, including medical professionals, hospitals, colleges and medical technology companies. ABI Research forecasts that the medical VR sector will generate $8.9 million (USD), rising to $285million by 2022.
The report identified four main areas of activity for medical and healthcare VR: therapy, training, surgery related applications and medical research. The report noted that therapy applications are currently the are where VR is most frequently used, covering uses where supervision by a therapist is not always needed, such as for sleep management or smoking cessation programs.
Many organisations have begun trialing or deploying VR as it moves into the mainstream and its benefits becomes better known. The report cites several examples such as MindMaze VR rehabilitation platform, or the Kortex sleep and stress management application.
“Non-medical therapeutic applications which usually don’t require strict regulations compared to medical therapies are growing in the consumer segment too. VR applications such as smoke cessation, sleep management, stress management, and memory improvement for the elderly are increasingly used by consumers for their general health,” notes Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research.
The research does note that for areas such as surgical preparation, VR is largely not seen as precise or responsive enough to create scenarios that can accurately provide for complex surgical scenarios. This will no doubt change as technology advances.
VRFocus will continue to report on developments in the VR industry.