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A Return to Embodied Labs

When we last visited Embodied Labs, they had just moved from Chicago to a house in LA, they had just published their first VR title Alfred (simulating Alzheimer’s Disease and Macular Degeneration) and they had yet to prove that their concept of using VR to develop empathy in care givers would really work and find a market. What a difference a year makes!  

Founders Carrie Shaw & Thomas Leahy at the LA office of Embodied Labs
Founders Carrie Shaw & Thomas Leahy at the LA office of Embodied Labs

Of course, as founder and CEO Carrie Shaw says, they are living in Start-Up Years, where one calendar year is like 18 years of a normal life! 
Embodied Labs has a second title on the market and is just about to launch a third, Clay, dealing with the experience that patients and their families go through at end of life. I got a chance to preview it at their office on LA’s Miracle Mile and it’s just as intense as it sounds. Carrie and Thomas are having discussions with educators about how to prepare students for this experience and how to debrief them afterwards. Not surprisingly, many of those who have seen Clay have been brought to tears after embodying the mind of a man going through the last few months, and then the last moments of his life.
In the last year Embodied Labs has contracted to provide their software to a number of institutions to help caregivers develop understanding and empathy for the experience of their patients. They are also very interested in working with education institutions to use their software in the curriculum, and also to partner with faculty to research the impact and effectiveness of their VR experiences. During the past semester, Associate Professor Jaime Hannans at Cal State Channel Islands used the Alfred Alzheimer’s simulation with her nursing students, and reported very promising results.
Embodied Labs has also received recognition from several quarters, including XR Education Prize of $250,000 funded by the Gates Foundation. I’m glad to see their fan club growing because I think their work is very high quality, quite innovative, and has the potential to be one of the most impactful applications of immersive reality for education. We had fun talking about possible future directions but for now they are focused on the health care industry, which is of course one of the fastest growing parts of the economy.

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