Breathing new life into Virtual Reality rehabilitation
Add-Life’s Daish Malani and Tony Aitchison reveal their vision that will set the bar for virtual reality rehabilitation.
Hi Daish and Tony, can you tell us more about Add life?
Daish: We have built a system that can help anyone who needs upper-body mobility and exercise. This will take the pressure off traditional rehabilitation systems and allow people to take charge of their own health and rehabilitation program.
Tony: Yes, in particular, some individuals find occupational therapy to be repetitive and not very enjoyable. Our virtual reality system aims to make it more enjoyable.
Daish: We’re using virtual reality technology that requires no prior learning in using the hardware. You basically just put it on, push buttons and do activities like you would in the real world. We can gather metrics about what their hands are doing and if their hands are in particular positions, things that their physicians are particularly interested in keeping records of. It also gives them a history of the work they’ve achieved, including their limitations with how they can improve.
How adaptive can add life virtual reality system be?
Daish: I’ve been an evangelist from the beginning. Virtual reality is a powerful and empathetic tool that teaches people a lot more than what you get from the media where you feel disconnected from the source, but through virtual reality you’re pretty much a part of it and you feel the emotion. Any injury can be stressful so the relaxation aspect of virtual reality is very important.
Tony: One of the fringe benefits of virtual reality is that you create your environment, play sports, go for runs, go to the beach, and play games. It has a large field of application.
“There’s never a moment when your brain is not thinking about your project. You have to be able to sustain that level of intensity.”
Daish: With virtual reality, you could be on the beach or on the moon doing rehabilitation. Basically, our imagination is our only limit.
Tony: If people want a certain environment, we’ll listen to them and make it.
Daish: And with our technology we’ll be getting instant feedback from users and make changes that people need immediately.
What is unique about Add-Life virtual reality product?
Daish: We have a system that provides a much longer care program. It allows them intensive rehabilitation on a daily basis which has been proven to drop off dramatically as they stop getting financial and hospital support.
Tony: Our product is a great opportunity for people to continue rehabilitation at a much lower cost plus the system is very entertaining and you can get a lot out of it than just health. It also has the option for remote care, such as someone who lives out at Coober Pedy, suffered a stroke and not able to come to Adelaide to do their rehabilitation regularly. It is also very expensive for that individual to travel and stay in Adelaide. By using the virtual reality system at home, extended care can be done remotely.
What was your background before and how did you transition to the virtual reality space?
Tony: I finished a Ph. D a few years ago and then I went on to do many Post-doctorates all around the world. Many of the projects I worked on involved researching and developing a product to be released to the market which I found to be very interesting. Last year I decided it was the time to start my entrepreneurial life. I had been doing an MBA at UNSW, and learnt lots of good knowledge from that and I therefore took the next logical step.
Daish: I’m from the traditional designing background when the dot com boom came. I was working in websites then moved into apps. This helped bring a website and graphic designing perspective into virtual reality because sometimes you get caught up in the technology and you lose the human aspect of it.
“With virtual reality, you could be on the beach or on the moon doing rehabilitation. Basically, our imagination is our only limit. “
What inspired you towards this virtual reality entrepreneurial path?
Daish: I’m a virtual reality evangelist and I would like it to be utilized as a powerful social tool such as you can use virtual reality for recreational purposes to tell a powerful story. When you can use your mind, your body and your vision and all combined to interface with a system, then it makes perfect sense. Currently rehabilitation is a sector that is expensive to continue in the traditional way, which is why we created our virtual reality rehabilitation.
So far, what is the entrepreneurial lifestyle like?
Daish: You must have a sidekick of passive income so you can focus on what your true passion is, so it’s a tough journey but we are looking forward to helping a lot of people out there recover faster, thus being more focused on the end goal. It is good to have a vision in a sense but it is also a weight on your shoulder. There’s never a moment when your brain is not thinking about your project. You should be able to sustain that level of intensity.
“Virtual reality is a powerful, empathetic tool that teaches people a lot more than what you get from the media where you feel disconnected from the source, but through virtual reality you’re pretty much a part of it and you feel the emotion.”
Tony: We can make decisions quickly and implement it unlike what you could do in a larger corporation, that gives us more flexibility and freedom but a bigger risk is involved as well. It’s a bit exciting in one sense but is also intimidating in another sense.
As an entrepreneur, you get a lot of good opportunities and more control but be prepare to work from 9AM to 9PM and sacrifice a lot of your time to reap the long-term benefits.
What is your vision for the future of your company?
Tony: We need to know exactly what patients need and what kind of interface they like, to make it simple and as easy as using a television, helping them become familiar with it so they can go continue their rehabilitation in a fun and exciting way.
Daish: Making it a seamless process and disrupting the regular rehabilitation routine. We want doctors to get excited to present their patients to our product and we also want to encourage them to integrate it into their systems.
How do you think the virtual reality market is going?
Daish: Someone’s trying to reach the top and be a monopoly and make the device everyone’s going to use. Whoever is going to win is going to be the first person to expose virtual reality to the world. Adelaide is a high-tech city and I think by next year, it will be moving forward at a rapid pace.
Tony: There are many big players in the market at the moment, and in our strategic plan we are aiming to be one of them.