This VR headset takes a hard look at brain injuries



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Virtual reality could help in diagnosing something as elusive as a concussion.

SyncThink, which develops eye-tracking technology for VR headsets, says its Eye-Sync device can indicate head-related injury symptoms in under a minute. On Wednesday, it announced that it’s partnering with database company Couchbase to enable offline capabilities for Eye-Sync.

A brain injury compromises a person’s ability to predict incoming information and to pay attention. To assess for possible injury, a football player on the sidelines, fresh off a collision, or a soldier who’s taken a blow during training puts on the Eye-Sync headset — a modified Samsung Gear VR equipped with a Samsung Galaxy S7 — and watches a red dot move in a circle.

The device then measures the person’s eye motion and characterizes how well it synchronizes with the moving target. A clinician uses a Galaxy Tab S2 to monitor the user during the assessment and to receive an automated analysis. If the person’s eye motion is not synchronized, that could indicate an ocular-motor impairment, a common component of concussion.

virtual reality, This VR headset takes a hard look at brain injuries
VR could aid in evaluating ocular-motor impairments, a common component of concussion.

“The tools that clinicians have on the sidelines are largely subjective,” said Dan Beeler, CTO of SyncThink. “For ocular-motor tests in particular, this is a tool that can objectively and quickly provide a piece of information about an ability that is critical for that player to avoid a secondary injury.”

It’s a job opportunity for virtual reality, computer-generated simulations of 3D environments that people can experience by strapping on what looks like a diving mask, but with a smartphone screen inside. That VR headset feeds images to the user’s eyes, allowing them to interact with a setting in a seemingly realistic way. Virtual reality has been largely confined to gaming while it awaits a bigger breakthrough to consumers at large, though it also has some health care applications, from treating phobias to potentially helping stroke victims regain motor function.

VR technology may provide some clarity to identifying concussions, which can be tricky to pinpoint because there might not…