Saskatoon tech company strives for VR medical training in space
Published Tuesday, May 28, 2019 6:49PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, May 28, 2019 7:00PM CST
When the time comes for the Canadian Space Agency to embark on deep space missions beyond the moon, a Saskatoon tech company hopes to have its virtual reality technology right up there with astronauts.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for us and for me personally, it’s super cool,” said Mike Wesolowski, CEO of Luxsonic Technologies Inc. He said he caught the space bug early in his life when his father used to share fictional space exploration stories.
Now Wesolowski is the head of his very own virtual reality company at Innovation Place in Saskatoon. Recently Luxsonic Technologies Inc. won a contract with the Canadian Space Agency to build the CaregiVR, a virtual reality medical training program astronauts take up to space to spruce up their medical skills while floating in the zero-gravity environment.
“They need to upkeep their skills and learn new skills while they’re in transit because they’re going to be gone for over a year and they’re not going to have access to resources on Earth. So all of those resources need to be available to them on the spacecraft,” Wesolowski said.
Over the next six months Luxsonic Technologies Inc. will be proving its concept to the CSA, and if the CSA likes what it sees the next step would be to record 360-degree video of 100 medical procedures and turning those videos into virtual reality simulations.
“There are situations in space where you may encounter a medical event. It could be as simple as, one of the crew has a headache or it could be a medical emergency,” Wesolowski said. “The idea is, you would be immersed in a clinical scenario and you would be observing the clinical scenario.”
Another component for CaregiVR aims to have a headset that shows the real world and the VR world at the same time.
“With a mixed reality headset, let’s say I don’t remember how to set the bones (on a broken arm) properly, we could have the VR headset give them just-in-time training,” Wesolowski said, adding CaregiVR can also be used by other crew members. “Because maybe the medical officer is injured and another crew has to put on the headset and get that training.”
Wesolowski said they use virtual reality headsets ranging from $100 to $500, but the cost for the full software and immersive experience bring the price up to $3,000.
“We want to use this technology to help people in space or for a pediatric patient. This technology is the future of medicine.”