Virtual Bodyworks S.L. founded by Mel Slater and Mavi Sanchez-Vives is a spin-off company from ICREA/UB/IDIBAPS. The investigator from UB Dr Bernhard Spanlang is also a partner in the company. The objective of Virtual Bodyworks S.L. is to apply immersive virtual reality in the context of health improvement, both physical and mental. To this end the company has developed several prototypes and applications that have been tested and evaluated in our incubator, the EVENT Lab (Experimental Virtual Environments in Neuroscience and Technology Lab) as well as by professionals from various institutions.
The development has been funded so far by ERC Proof of Concept to MS (System for Embodied Relational Experiences, Project No. 620256) and FIPSE (Foundation for the innovation and future development of health in Spain) to MVS-V. A further ERC Proof of Concept to MS has recently been retained for funding and is currently under negotiation.
Until recently immersive virtual reality was confined mainly to the laboratory due to the fixed nature and cost of the equipment installation. However, based on new consumer level hardware the company has acquired the capability for our virtual reality system to be moved ‘out of the lab’ into society. A virtual reality system has many different components that need to be integrated and the company owns software that does this integration across multiple devices, facilitating the development of applications.
Virtual Bodyworks S.L. won the first ever given prize to a virtual reality application by The App Date, in December 2015. This was for an application called ‘Freud-me’ that provides an immersive tool for people to give themselves counselling about personal problems from the perspective of another person, for example, in this case Dr Sigmund Freud (http://www.freud-me.com).
An application of the technology under commercialisation by Virtual Bodyworks S.L. is currently on display at the CCCB in Barcelona in the exhibition in the exhibition ‘HUMANS+’ (http://www.cccb.org/en/exhibitions/file/human-/129032). This shows an interactive virtual environment that is simultaneously shared by others where people carry out tasks together. It illustrates the power of virtual reality both to transform a person to another space and to work collaboratively with people who physically remote, and yet are represented in a shared virtual world.
Virtual Bodyworks SL has been selected for participation in the accelerators ESADE EMPENTA and MUNICH RE.