Last updated December 3rd 2018

Imagine holding a hologram of a real heart in your hands or looking at a hologram of the spinal vertebrates during surgery. Those are just some of the possibilities being made available by Israeli companies developing sophisticated technologies that they hope will be widely adopted.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) technologies are already being applied in various industries, like education and gaming, but developments in these fields for the medical and healthcare sectors are proving especially promising.

Scientists and physicians are already employing VR/AR in surgical simulations, and training for medical students, and in clinical studies. Some VR/AR applications, through their immersive environments, are becoming common tools in patient treatments, care, monitoring, pain management, and rehabilitation.

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The use of VR/AR in healthcare has been growing steadily due to emerging technologies and a changing medical/healthcare IT field, and the market is expected to reach $5.1 billion by 2025 according to a report earlier this year by Grand View Research.

Israeli companies and startups have been on the frontlines of developing some of these technologies, and as a leader in the medical field, entrepreneurs have combined the two amounting to some serious potential.

Here are five Israeli companies hoping to improve the future of healthcare using VR/AR:

RealView Imaging Ltd.

RealView Imaging Ltd. is revolutionizing the field of surgery with live medical holography. The company’s proprietary Digital Light Shaping technology delivers an advanced 3D-visualization tool, the HOLOSCOPE-i, the world’s first medical holographic system that provides realistic and natural user experiences by creating spatially accurate three-dimensional, in-air holograms.

The HOLOSCOPE-i is the first commercial holographic product that can be used during minimally invasive procedures, allowing physicians to manipulate the 3D images in real time.

“This will be used in actual procedures, cardiologic procedures, minimally invasive procedures, in which the physician doesn’t really open the chest, but totally depends on the 3D imaging,” said Real View Imaging CEO and co-founder, Aviad Kaufman, in an interview with i24 News last month. Placing a patient’s anatomy in the surgeons’ hands will enable them with quicker and safer procedure and better results.”

Augmedics

With a mission to transform surgical treatment using cutting-edge technologies, Augmendics, an Israeli company based in Yokneam Ilit in northern Israel, developed the Xvision, a lightweight, wireless AR head-mounted display for spinal surgery, that gives surgeons “X-ray vision” during complex procedures. It allows for clear visualizations and surgical navigation of each and every one of the spinal vertebra. This benefits surgeons working on degenerative spine issues, correction of spinal deformity, tumor resection, and general spinal trauma cases.

Spinal surgeons believe that the 3D surgical experience will lead to more efficient results. “Typically, we have to look away from where we are working, but this has all the image guidance information, directly in front of you, within the goggles that you’re wearing, while you are placing the instrument,” said Timothy Witham, MD of neurological and orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

During the surgical workflow, surgeons can view a patient’s anatomy and positioning, allowing easier surgery planning and stress reduction in the working environment. The Xvision system also utilizes an array of sensors and collects surgical data for analysis to provide alerts and suggestions, assisting during the procedure.

The device is currently used for research purposes. In August, Augmedics began a first-in-human clinical trial of the system at Sheba Tel Hashomer Medical Center and Asaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel.

VRHealth

Tel Aviv-based VRHealth develops medical and wellness applications using XR (mixed reality) technology. Its platforms collect and analyze interactions with virtual objects and environments by using AI cloud computing algorithms to deliver real-time data analytics and insights to users and clinicians.

Its products focus on motor cognitive, physical, and psychological rehabilitation, postural ability and pain assessment and treatment for at home use and for healthcare facilities. Its clinical solutions are categorized into two products: VRReliever, a pain distraction platform that enables patients to disconnect from pain and anxiety while improving relaxation through imagery; and VRPhysio, a medical platform for rehabilitation with a bundle of FDA-registered applications that are now deployed in over thirty hospitals in the United States.

Recently, VRHealth announced that it will provide the first VR medical platform for healthcare facilities in the European Union, after receiving a CE mark.

The company has a partnership with Oculus, a virtual reality headsets company, and it delivers its solutions via Oculus Go and Rift.

In an interview with Forbes, Eran Orr, founder and CEO of VRHealth, stated: “I truly believe VR will change healthcare and will be in every hospital and every rehab center in three years.”

Calma

Israeli company Calma provides a VR-enhanced therapeutic environment geared toward children on the autism spectrum suffering from sensory processing disorders.

Therapeutic sessions take place in simulated underwater environments, enriched with animations, sounds, and music. During the treatment, a management console allows the therapist to add, moderate or remove stimulants (including music) in response to the reaction of the child in real time. The goal is to train the child’s sensory regulation system to better handle auditory and visual stimulants and achieve emotional balance.

The Holon Institute of Technology’ faculty of Instructional Technologies at is one of the partners in the platform’s development.

SeeMe

SeeMee developed a variety of VR applications that make the rehabilitation process easier, more effective, and more fun for patients. SeeMe is defined as a class I medical system with ISO, CE, and Israeli certification. The system has been available for clinical use since 2009.

SEE ALSO: 3D Virtual Reality Therapy Could Help Repair Damaged Limbs, Israeli Study Finds

It combines therapeutic customizable tasks and interactive games (Kinect technology) that help patients restore their strength, improve the quality of movement and memory, while increasing the motivation to participate in the rehabilitation process. The system is designed to help with a wide range of conditions, including spinal cord injuries, muscular atrophy, multiple sclerosis, fractures, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and various balance disturbances.

SeeMe is used by physical and occupational therapists, psychologists and doctors in Israel and around the world. During the procedure, clinicians are able to manage a patient database and generate detailed reports.

Alexandra Gurevich is a writer, content and social media specialist. She combines storytelling about innovation and technology, while expanding digital presence and engaging with online communities.
Her work can be found here.