Embodied Labs, a young company using virtual reality to provide immersive training for caregivers, has raised $3.2 million in seed funding, the company announced yesterday at the Health 2.0 VentureConnect event on the sidelines of the JP Morgan healthcare conference in San Francisco.
“The round is very exciting because we triangulated experts in healthcare and aging care with [experts in] immersive technology and the impact around workforce training to make up a team that really supports our mission and vision,” CEO and founder Carrie Shaw told MobiHealthNews at the event.
The round was co-led by Ziegler Link·Age Fund and The Venture Reality Fund, with additional contribution from SustainVC, a social impact fund in healthcare and education, WXR Fund, which focuses on women and the future of computing, and ETF@JFFLabs, a social impact fund that invests in technologies that close skill gaps and improve economic mobility.
WHAT THEY DO
Born out of Shaw’s personal experience as a 28-year-old caregiver for her 61-year-old mother who ultimately passed away from early onset Alzheimer’s, Embodied Labs offers trainings for a variety of stakeholders, from hospices and healthcare systems to the call center of Best Buy’s senior products’ division.
The trainings are built around five-minute VR experiences that help to put caregivers into the shoes of elderly patients with degenerative diseases.
“We started focusing on aging care and now we have training programs looking at vision and hearing impairment, dementia — looking not only at Alzheimers, but other types — and, as I mentioned, end of life has been an important part of our suite so we’ve been able to focus on the hospice market,” Shaw said from the stage. “We’re looking at fall prevention training, LGBT issues in aging coming up next and then also partnering with other leaders in this space.”
WHAT IT’S FOR
It’s the first funding round for a company that’s been quietly bootstrapped since 2016 — and which brings in $600,000 in annual revenue.
“We’re actually three and a half years old as a company and this is our first investor and equity finance round,” Shaw told MobiHealthNews. “We’ve been recognized by Bill and Melinda Gates, by the Department of Education, by the AARP Innovation Program. We have half a million base of subscription revenue and B2B customers who use our product. So this year’s all about scale and saying how do we reach the most people dealing with dementia, caregiver training issues, both at the provider/professional level and then through those customers the family caregivers. It’s scale, it’s reach, and then defining the way immersive products can do something more efficiently and effectively then we’ve been able to do in the past.”
Healthcare companies are using VR in a wide variety of ways. That includes training and education use cases from companies like Oxford Medical VR, Health Scholars, and Fundamental VR. Hospitals like the University of Nebraska Medical Center are also building in-house VR training centers.
VR has also been used by other groups to foster empathy and allow individuals to experience others’ medical conditions. For instance, Lenscrafters created a VR experience to show parents what it’s like to be a child in school who needs glasses and can’t see.
ON THE RECORD
“It’s really exciting to close our round with the expertise we have in these investors, because they all see this vision and bring expertise that will help scale us to make sure we’re on track impacting lives of people who can benefit the most from immersive technology within aging care,” Shaw said. “And I really see going beyond that to wellness and healthcare at large; I think it will become the next computing platform after mobile.”