Virtual reality glasses used as a diagnostic tool for brain disorders
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MachineMD, a spin-off of Inselspital Bern, and CSEM, are collaborating to diagnose brain diseases by analyzing eye movements with a virtual reality headset. Their tool, neos, has been awarded the first prize by the Ypsomed Innovation Fund.
machineMD is an exemplary product of the well-connected Bernese startup ecosystem. Prof Dr Mathias Abegg has been working on the measurement of eye movements for 15 years. He realized early on that this could be used to diagnose brain disorders. Since there were no usable examination devices for this purpose, he turned to the Bern University of Applied Sciences in 2018 and met Dominik Brügger, who worked there as a scientific assistant in the field of biomedical engineering. The latter developed the idea of integrating manual eye examinations into a VR headset. This resulted in neos, a novel diagnostic device that enables a complete, standardized neuro-ophthalmological examination.
Step by step, the idea was further developed, first in collaboration with the Bern University of Applied Sciences, then with the University of Bern and Inselspital. In 2019, machineMD was founded. The young company benefited from the location promotion of the Canton of Bern and was selected for an Innosuisse project in 2021. Since the beginning of 2022, machineMD moved to the Sitem MedTech Hub in Bern and was also able to attract important investors in the Sitem environment. “The story of machineMD shows the path from an idea to a medical device that will help many people,” explains technical director Dominik Brügger. “The Bern startup ecosystem made this path possible – we find ideal conditions for our headquarters in Bern. We are very grateful for that.”
“I am fascinated by the ophthalmologic diagnostic approach of machineMD using VR glasses and Artificial Intelligence to radically improve early detection of brain disorders”, said Simon Michel, President of the Ypsomed Foundation Board and CEO of Ypsomed. “I congratulate the team at machineMD for their achievements in translational medicine.”
By combining VR and AI, neos is able to collect quantifiable data that will enable doctors to make better diagnoses. The device stimulates the visual system and measures eye and pupil movements. With neos, eight fully automated examinations including visual field and pupillary functions can be performed. The examination time is reduced from 45 to 10 minutes compared to conventional methods.
“neos is a gamechanger,” explains Dominik Brügger. “It simplifies and shortens the examination and provides reliable, quantitative data. This means that the diagnostic quality of a highly qualified specialist can be made available to any doctor, optometrist or optician anywhere in the world, enabling more accurate and earlier diagnoses with a corresponding positive effect on the chances of recovery.”
MachineMD is a Swiss medical device company, founded in 2019, that is radically improving the early detection of brain disorders. With a unique combination of Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, machineMD empowers neurologists and ophthalmologists with reliable diagnostic data, bringing the diagnostic quality of a highly trained tertiary care specialist to where it is most needed, in secondary and primary care. neos is an investigational non-invasive diagnostic device and is not currently available in any market.