VR developer begins beta testing its new software platform, Stratos, in limited clinical testing
The team at Edmonton-based KOVR tested the beta version of its new VR software platform, Stratos, and its first piece of education software, the Diabetic Retinopathy Module (DRM), this past month to a select group of patients. This beta phase enabled clinicians to introduce the software to their diabetic patients and provide a real-world test sampling before the larger DRM release later on in 2021. Through this technology, diabetic patients can be better informed about the ramifications of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy so they realize the importance of getting regular eye exams to manage their health.
The Canadian Diabetes Association and Canadian Ophthalmology Society estimate that 11 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes, and only approximately 30% of them have regular eye exams. Diabetic patients who have their eye health routinely monitored so that issues can be identified early, before their vision loss progresses, can ultimately enjoy an improved quality of life while also helping to significantly reduce costs to the health care system.
“The main issue we heard from physicians was how they could more effectively educate their patients on the negative impact their diabetes can have on their vision and the increased risks of not having regular eye exams for preventing and treating vision loss,” says Robert Lennon, President and Creative Director with KO Group, KOVR’s parent company.
To create an accurate depiction of the common patterns of vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy, KOVR worked closely with Dr. Karim Damji, Chair of the University of Alberta’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and lead ophthalmologist with the Eye Institute of Alberta, and Dr. Matthew Tennant, clinical professor with the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Alberta. With input from Dr. Damji and Dr. Tennant, the KOVR team developed a simulation where users complete simple everyday tasks as their vision begins to obscure while wearing a VR headset.
“The DRM goes beyond any pamphlet or poster informing diabetic patients why paying attention to their eye health is important,” says Dr. Damji. “Being able to show how their vision can deteriorate and enabling them to experience it in a simulated virtual reality manner can better instill in our diabetic patients how critical it is for them to regularly monitor their eye health to prevent or mitigate future vision loss.”
Alberta Innovates provided support through its eXtended Reality Health Economic Acceleration and Development (xR HEAD) program. The program supports digital solutions which enhance patient care or supports the training of health professionals. The DRM is also the first of many education programs to be developed for Stratos. “We are excited to see the great strides that have been made in developing the Stratos platform and the Diabetic Retinopathy Module to assist those living with diabetes,” says Bindi Ferguson, Director, Portfolio Management-Health, Alberta Innovates. “This project exemplifies how digital and data-enabled technologies can deliver more affordable, accessible, and high-quality health care for all Albertans.”
For KOVR, the developers are actively looking for new partners to continue expanding Stratos’ library of modules and utilizing VR to its fullest educational potential. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that digital technologies are no longer the future of education or health care — they’re the present,” says Lennon. “Through VR, there’s no limit to what can be shown and who it can inform.”
See KOVR’s Stratos program on YouTube.
KO Group is one of Canada’s premiere video production companies. Founded in 1993 as KO Productions, we produce hundreds of television commercials each year, as well as corporate and marketing videos, 3D animation and web content. Through our VR and AR technology division, KOVR, we are developing groundbreaking sales, marketing and training applications for many industries.
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