Developments in VR Technology with CalArtian Narae Kim

Alpha Vanish, a VR product for pain management, will be released by Tamadé at the end of the summer. | Image courtesy of Narae Kim.

The last time 24700 heard from CalArts alum Narae Kim (Theater MFA 17), she was off to the 2017 Festival de Cannes with writer and director Celine Tien and sound director Julien Soros to present Pippa’s Pan 盼. The interactive Virtual Reality film, with art direction by Kim, focuses on a woman suffering from Alzheimer's Disease who tries to reconnect with her husband in a forest filled with memories of their relationship.

Pippa’s Pan 盼 paved the way for Tien, Soros and Kim to discover the growing field of VR health applications and eventually launch their own company Tamadé. With advancements in technology, lower costs and greater funding for research and development, VR is becoming more widely adopted in the medical community as a highly effective pain management treatment. Earlier this year, Forbes published an article predicting "the market for virtual reality and augmented reality for healthcare applications to grow to $5.1 billion by 2025, with about 3.4 million patients availing the technology."

At the end of the summer, Tamadé is releasing their first product, Alpha VANISH, a consumer-facing VR device for pain management. The holistic system is designed to target the bio-psycho-social facets of chronic pain.

Tamadé's early projects, Pippa’s Pan 盼, On the Pulse and Underwater Welding Trainingwere instrumental in the development of Alpha VANISH. On the Pulse was their first data-driven VR demo, which uses real-time feedback to incorporate the user's own heartbeat into the environment.

In an email Kim said:

While making various data-driven VR content, we encountered researchers in many different fields including medical, and realized there are possibilities to use this technology for more practical experiences with tangible outcomes, like medical therapy, rehabilitation and pain management. Since then, we have built a strong advisory board that helps us with the medical and scientific aspects.

Last year we conducted a pilot study with chronic pain patients and have seen long-term efficacy on pain management and reducing medication. Based on these results, we are fleshing out a daily at-home system that's effective and fun. I truly believe art can change lives, especially since we've seen how creating artistic experiences is crucial to making our VR system effective!

Learn more about Alpha Vanish on Tamadé's website.

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