By: Scott Kim, President of NEOFECT USA
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background? Is it your first business?
I’m the President of NEOFECT USA, and one of the founders of its parent company, NEOFECT, which is headquartered in South Korea. Other founders are Hoyoung Ban (CEO) and Young Choi (CTO). I had been wearing several different hats before starting this job – a management consultant, a product manager in the software industry. I worked for mobile gaming companies such as GREE, and Z2Live (which is now Activision Blizzard) and founded a couple of startups.
Write 2-3 sentences about your business. What problem is your business trying to solve?
The RAPAEL Solution is an FDA-approved VR-based hand rehabilitation device for stroke patients. It consists of a wearable bio-feedback “Smart Glove” and a software application: the sensor data is transmitted via Bluetooth from the patient’s hand, and the software creates training games based on the patient’s activity level.
There are several problems with traditional stroke rehab: it is costly, long and frustrating process which has to be done in the doctor’s office and is difficult to measure. The Rapael system solves all of the problems: it creates an immersive, ever changing experience through 40 plus games, it is more effective and requires a shorter period of time (= saves money) to see noticeable improvements, and it can be done anywhere because the glove is lightweight, and the doctor can monitor and adjust the treatment remotely, through the app on their tablet.
What are your business growth plans?
One of the important goals of NEOFECT is to expand globally. Right now, we operate in S. Korea, the United States and Europe. Currently, our customers are a number of hospitals. This year, we’re launching a consumer version of the Smart Glove for use at home, so our main goal is to fine-tune the software to provide a frustration-free interface for the patients.
What excites you the most about the possibilities of VR? In terms of transformative technologies where do you see VR on the spectrum? Fire, the wheel, the automobile, phones, airplanes etc.
I’m most excited about the unlimited opportunities virtual reality opens to diverse industries. Our job is to make it meaningful, to improve the quality of life for millions of stroke survivors and their families. Though virtual reality, people from all over the world, including those living in remote rural areas and developing countries, can receive for the first time a quality health care and other services. In a way, it is similar to airplanes as they allowed us to connect to each other and discover new parts of the world.
What industry do you think will be most impacted by VR? Education, HealthCare?
For obvious reasons, gaming and entertainment industries will be changed forever. But I believe that health care is the industry that can benefit the most from virtual and augmented reality. With aging global population and growing medical costs, we are desperately in need for new technologies. We’re talking not about fun, but about saving lives and treating severe conditions. Thanks to virtual reality, it can be done remotely and soon will become more common and affordable.
Will VR unite or divide the world?
Let me tell you about “We Are Alfred”. The researchers were trying to solve the problem: an average physician is in their mid-tweentees while the majority of their patients are sixty years and older. Using virtual reality, the caregivers were immersed in the world of the elderly. All the participants said that now, they understand their patients better and feel a strong sense of empathy towards them.
I believe that the more people share similar experiences virtually, the smaller the communication gap between them will be. I can see how our product already contributes to narrowing the gap between healthcare providers and patients’ families. Patients’ families now can see and understand rehab process of their loved ones and be a part of it by encouraging the patient and discussing the progress with their physician.
What will your children be able to experience with VR that is currently not possible?
In the healthcare industry, virtual reality will move from hospital and university labs into people’s homes and will become a normal part of their daily life. In other industries, they will be able to communicate with people across the globe and feel the haptic feedback, to experience other countries, the Space and underwater adventures from the convenience of their home. I believe that it will expand their horizons, feed their imagination and lead to new discoveries that are now considered to be impossible even to think about.