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Every now and then, I get an email about a startup that’s littered with vague buzzwords—“Web3” and “metaverse” are the current favorites—which are often hamfisted into a business strategy that, for many of these companies, has already existed for years.
Yesterday I wrote about Tripp, the Los Angeles-based virtual reality meditation startup that raised more than $11 million to build a “mindful metaverse,” per its press release and website. The company has recently acquired a handful of similar platforms like EvolVR, which deploys avatars to let people meditate together in groups via VR headsets or mobile devices. Among Tripp’s investors is “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic, which is partnering with the startup on augmented reality (AR) offerings.
I’m still a little unclear on the difference between something that’s simply virtual reality and when that virtual reality becomes part of the “metaverse.” But as a health tech reporter, Tripp’s goal of carving out a meditative online space harkens back to the early days of what we now call Web 2.0.
Anyone remember the “Sims”-like virtual world Second Life? Health organizations like the CDC and the National Library of Medicine built entire worlds in Second Life to create health-related interactive content. One medical professor built a women’s health center in Second Life that talked about the importance of breast exams.
“Virtual worlds provide an excellent opportunity for users to ‘model’ healthy behaviors,” the CDC wrote in a 2010 paper. “When used effectively, virtual worlds can provide a safe and engaging environment where users learn the positive and negative consequences of health decisions and the skills to make healthier choices.”
Today’s “virtual worlds” look a lot different, with the advent of VR headsets making it easier than ever for patients to experience immersive treatments. L.A.-based AppliedVR burst onto the scene in 2015 to soothe chronic pain by stimulating other parts of their brain through intense visual and audio experiences. Tripp, for its part, guides users through meditations as they watch trippy, 3D visuals like giant animated mushrooms and glowing flowers. These platforms evoke what Brennan Spiegel, a doctor at Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles who directs the medical center’s digital health and virtual reality programs, described as a “pharmacy of VR” where virtual reality experiences can be tailored to patients’ specific ailments.
So while I’m still a bit skeptical about what a metaverse exactly is, I have no doubt that companies like Tripp can find some use in it. — Keerthi Vedantam
Ten sports tech startups—including four from SoCal—got one-on-one time with leaders at NASCAR, the PGA Tour and Sky Sports, among others, as part of Comcast’s accelerator program.
Santa Barbara Venture Partners has closed its first, $11 million investment fund, with the primary goal of backing software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies based predominantly in Southern California.
Regeneration.VC’s Dan Fishman joined the LA Venture podcast to talk about the consumer side of the environmental crisis. As consumer habits are changing, the segment remains underfunded—and that presents new opportunities, according to Fishman.
What We’re Reading Elsewhere...
- A look at what the upcoming mayoral election could mean for Los Angeles’ ambitious climate goals.
- Netflix was supposed to change Hollywood, but recent changes suggest it is returning to a formula that has long worked for entertainment giants.
- Los Angeles Football Club extends its partnership with Venuetize to allow mobile food ordering at the stadium.
- Fintech unicorn Dave launches a new cash back rewards program.