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Project COVID-19: VR Strikes Back

A VR training module to rapidly upskill/reskill healthcare workers in swab testing & protective equipment measures, in a gamified experience

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ORamaVR, a deep technology start-up, in cooperation with the eEmergency Medicine at University Emergency Department, Inselspital Bern, New York University, and HTC Vive, is developing an intelligent virtual reality simulation for COVID-19 training.

ORamaVR’s solution offers a method for rapid and effective training, one that can enhance the readiness of the emergency physician, the ICU doctor, the nurse practitioner, the EMT, the PA, and many others. 

Users will be trained in testing and protective measures: how to perform swabs, get in and out of protective equipment, and disinfect properly - all in an engaging, immersive experience that can facilitate skill transfer from the virtual to the real world.  

Our partners at the University of Bern & NYU will provide ORamaVR with all subject matter expert background material required to create a complete storyboard tailored for the VR training module: videos, equipment screenshots, as well as relevant background documentation. Our partner HTC will provide a sufficient number of virtual reality head mounted displays (VR-HMDs) to selected hospitals, as well as marketing and communication assistance to ensure maximum visibility.

Our software has been proven (see 2019 published results from our randomized control trial: to enhance skills acquisition compared to traditional methods, offering a shared, remote, real-time learning experience. In addition, medical training costs will be lower, more accessible, faster, and more effective via VR simulation.

The VR learning simulation will be widely accessible at no cost, both at HTC’s Viveport and at ORamaVR’s Store, and will support all current SteamVR enabled desktop HMDs, as well as untethered mobile units. A learning video will be available for those users that do not have access to a VR hardware unit. 

For the global developer community, our free source code will also be released.

What is the need are you focusing on?

Healthcare providers are at the forefront of the fight against COVID- diagnosing symptoms, treating patients, & saving lives. Medical practitioners are responding to the tide of infections without sufficient personal protection equipment (PPE) or training. In a recent US survey by the National Nurses United union, only 30% of 6500 nurses polled said their employers had a sufficient supply of PPE, and only 44% said employers trained them in recognizing & responding to suspected COVID cases. 

When sufficient PPE equipment is available, practitioners are in need of self-protection training to ensure appropriate use of equipment while caring for and testing COVID patients. ORamaVR’s unique virtual reality training simulation can provide a measure of impact to heroes at the frontline - helping to ensure their safety, and enabling them to continue to provide critical services and support to patients.

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Sharing an actual pivot your organization has already made

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

With our clinically-validated software, ORamaVR enables users to perform life-like medical simulations in a risk-free learning environment, enhancing knowledge retention and skills acquisition. Some of the learning simulations already developed and sold by ORamaVR include modules for orthopaedics surgery, emergency trauma, and dental surgery. We are now pivoting to provide our expertise and create additional modules, for free use, to assist in the fight against Covid19. The target audience for these modules include, but are not limited to: healthcare professionals, medical personnel, volunteers, and recently graduated or medical students who will be fast-tracked through graduation to be made front-line doctors.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

ORamaVR makes medical education more efficient using cutting-edge VR, for a fraction of the cost of alternative technologies. Our technology removes the biggest obstacle to the uptake of VR in daily life – the lack of affordable content. What differentiates us is: 1) We are solving the most challenging technical issues with VR. To engineer and rapidly deploy an intelligent virtual environment, we are applying principles of neuroscience, pedagogy, artificial intelligence and spatial computing. This combination process is extremely challenging. Only a very few people in the entire world can do this right. 2) We are providing code-free development solutions. Our Software Development Kit (SDK) allows for easy authoring and composition of VR simulations, even to novice users, with little to no technical background - enabling efficiency and scale. Through this solution, we aim to achieve the following impact: - Create free COVID-19 training modules to scale up protective training for health practitioners - Decrease medical training time by 29% - Increase knowledge retention by 70% - Decrease training costs by 50% - Reduce preventable deaths by reaching locations where COVID-19 has hit (or is forecasted to hit) hardest In terms of longer-term impact, our solution can contribute to addressing the broader shortage of global healthcare workers - which will require the global health workforce to double and generate 40 million additional health workers by the year 2030. There is an urgent opportunity for upskilling and reskilling to meet this need. Our VR technology has the potential to train healthcare workers at scale, both in the US and internationally.

What is the name of your business or organization?


What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

ORamaVR is a technology startup with a vision to transform medical education through Virtual Reality (VR). MAGES, developed by ORamaVR, is the world’s first hyper-realistic VR-based software platform for medical training and assessment, which allows for rapid prototyping and deployment of VR medical training simulations. The technology is based on state-of-the-art research by world-renowned scientists. Using VR, medical trainees can perfect their skills in a fail-safe environment. ORamaVR provides trainees with the ability to collaborate with remote users. Trainees can carry out an operation on a virtual patient to improve their skills and practice life-saving medical procedures.

What is your profession?

Business Development @ORamaVR. Submitting on behalf of Paolo Catilo, Co-founder & CEO

Where are you located (country)?

Geneva, Switzerland

Where are you located (region)?

  • Europe

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Education
  • Healthcare/Medical
  • Technology

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 11-49

How old is your business/company?

  • 2-5 years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Business

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Funding- Investment
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups
  • Academic institutions / medical schools

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

Our consortium requires the support of partners who can help us to identify appropriate healthcare facilities, medical training institutions, and other organizations - particularly in vulnerable communities - through which the distribution of our training technology will make the biggest impact. In addition, we would welcome the longer-term support of other partners who could help to address the barriers identified below, particularly as we scale the model to new geographies.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

1. Understanding of the benefits of virtual environments by general population. 2. Lack of rich and immersive content - which we are addressing with our partners on this project. 3. Broadband connectivity for global access - 5G and Edge technologies should exponentially alleviate this hurdle. 4. Cost of VR hardware - hardware technology has a tendency to decrease in price.

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

When dealing with highly dynamic, high stakes domains such as healthcare training during a global pandemic, it's paramount to be able to continuously validate efficacy of the product through scientific, evidence based research and experimentation.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

We are unaware of any open source efforts to develop VR solutions related to medical training. In fact, our solution addresses this gap with our growing catalog of VR medical training simulations that engage users in a collaborative setting. We would be open to participation in such efforts, in order to help scale our solution and have more impact in battling the COVID-19 crisis.

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