Osso VR taps movie and game vets for cinema-quality surgical training


Over the past two years, the health care industry has been one of the largest adopters of mixed reality technologies, using VR headsets for everything from pain management to training doctors — with no shortage of developers competing for practitioners’ attention. Today, Osso VR is unveiling something that will set its surgical training apart from the pack: A movie-quality visual overhaul of its platform, developed by an Oscar-winning art director and a software/UI team that includes former games industry talent.

Prior to now, VR surgical instruction platforms have largely relied on modestly shaded anatomical models, flat videos, and/or basic user interfaces that don’t replicate medical scenarios with real-world detail or nuance. While early VR training systems have yielded health care benefits — Osso claims its own prior products delivered a peer-reviewed 230% improvement in surgical performance — the visual upgrade will enable doctors to enter believable virtual operating rooms and then interact with lifelike patients whose skin and wounds reflect surgical realities.

How lifelike? The images here offer a sense of the levels of detail that are being delivered by Osso art director Jonathan Sabella, who previously worked on multiple Marvel movies, the Star Wars VR experience Vader Immortal, and Alejandro Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning VR film Carne y ArenaSabella was tapped by Marvel to create realistic anatomy for memorable sequences featuring iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, and Thanos, including moments when the films would live or die on the accuracy of fully digital objects.

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Now Sabella — an expert on human and comparative anatomy — is working on VR projects with actual life and death consequences, “leaving no detail untouched.” Thanks to his work with the Osso VR team, the new training experience includes such convincing textures, shading, and modeling that doctors will be able to see everything from injuries to tools as they look close up in real life. It’s the first time medical VR will benefit from clinically accurate, emotionally compelling content developed by veterans of big-budget film and game studios.

To that end, Osso has also recruited software developers and customer experience specialists from the gaming industry, including senior software engineer John Rittenhouse (formerly of VR/massively multiplayer game developer CCP Games), customer experience lead Conrad Spotts (formerly of Nintendo), and customer experience specialists from Big Fish Games, Google, and Microsoft. Polishing the interactive training experiences to AAA game levels of refinement could help further distinguish the company’s offerings from rivals.

Osso’s prior platform is already in use at over 20 teaching hospitals and eight medical device companies, spread across 20 counties. The platform update is beginning to roll out now, and demos can be scheduled through the company’s website.