First Virtual Reality Headset for Mental Health in Space Will be Sent to ISS to Treat Astronauts During Mission
XRHealth, Nord-Space Aps, and HTC VIVE All Partner to Configure the VR Headset for the Microgravity Conditions of Space
XRHealth, the leading healthcare platform in Spatial computing, announces today that for the first time ever, a virtual reality headset will be sent to space to treat astronauts for mental health conditions during their next space mission targeted for launch on November 7th. XRHealth partnered with Nord-Space Aps and HTC VIVE to configure the VIVE Focus 3 headset to be compatible with the microgravity conditions of space.
While on a space mission, astronauts live in isolation and in non-stimulating and highly stressful environments that could potentially lead to mental health conditions. To address this, Nord-Space Aps created a virtual assistance mental balance initiative aimed to address astronauts’ specific needs to maintain mental health while in orbit. Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen will be the first astronaut in space to use the VR headset for preventative care during his 6–8-month mission with NASA Crew-7.
“Astronauts are essentially isolated during their missions for months and years at a time and are confined to small spaces with limited contact with friends and family,” says Per Lundahl Thomsen, Chief Technology Officer at Nord-Space Aps. “Creating a virtual platform that addresses their mental health needs while in isolation is imperative for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle when they return. We partnered with companies that provide the most advanced technologies that could be adapted for space to provide the most beneficial experience for our astronauts.”
The VR therapy will take place on the HTC VIVE Focus 3 headset with the simulator mode that was specially developed and adapted to work with the microgravity environment. In the past, using a VR headset in a microgravity environment posed multiple challenges around tracking and orientation since the jittering, rolling, and drifting of the content caused motion sickness and left astronauts unable to read the content in the headset. In a microgravity environment, there are no gravity vectors to align orientation, which inherently creates a drift to the point where the VR headset is unusable and unstable. Previous projects with other VR headsets resulted in tracking being lost after just a few minutes of use. Nord-Space Aps, HTC, and XRHealth worked to engineer a VR platform that would operate in space by using a simulator mode and a specialized tracking methodology via the controllers.
“What an incredible honor that NASA, ESA, XRHealth, and Nord-Space Aps are using HTC VIVE technology to tackle some of humanity’s most complex challenges in space exploration: isolation and mental health,” said Cher Wang, Chairwoman and Co-Founder of HTC. “It’s a testament to our culture of innovation that VIVE Focus 3 was selected out of multiple VR headsets to accompany NASA Crew-7 on their months-long mission to the ISS. Our team tackled unique challenges to configure the headset for use in microgravity conditions, and ultimately pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in VR. Astronauts will be able to get the same mental health benefits of immersive tech as we do on earth. It’s a groundbreaking moment.”
“XRHealth is harnessing spatial computing technologies to improve health for people around the world and now even in space,” says Eran Orr, Chief Executive Officer at XRHealth. “We are excited and proud to deploy the first headset on a space mission to relieve the pressure and stress so astronauts will be able to keep top performance while doing crucial space missions.”
About HTC VIVE
HTC VIVE is the premier virtual reality (VR) platform and ecosystem that creates true-to-life VR experiences for businesses and consumers. The VIVE ecosystem is built around premium VR hardware, software, and content. The VIVE business encompasses best-in-class XR hardware; VIVEPORT platform and app store; VIVE Enterprise Solutions for business customers; VIVE X, a US$100M VR business accelerator; and VIVE ARTS for cultural initiatives. For more information, please visit vive.com.
XRHealth is revolutionizing healthcare utilizing spatial computing. The company operates state-of-the-art therapeutic care Virtual Rooms, utilizing proprietary FDA and CE registered medical Extended Reality (XR) technology (virtual and augmented reality). XRHealth integrates immersive XR technology, licensed clinicians, and advanced data analytics on one platform, providing a comprehensive therapeutic care solution for patients to receive treatment from the comfort of their home. The company offers a variety of patent-pending solutions from rehabilitation services to cognitive assessment and training to pain management. XRHealth works with several world-renowned U.S. healthcare providers, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Founded in 2016, XRHealth is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and its R&D center is located in Tel-Aviv, Israel. For more information, visit xr.health.