Voices: Chris Brickler, CEO and Co-Founder, MyndVR - Senior Housing News

In this Voices interview, Senior Housing News sits down with MyndVR CEO and co-founder Chris Brickler to learn how his organization is using virtual reality to mitigate the effects of cognitive conditions and difficult care transitions. He explains how MyndVR is delivering on this mission through strategic partnerships, technological innovation and targeted content development.

As the co-founder of MyndVR, what career experiences do you most draw from in your role today?

Chris Brickler: I’ve been in high tech for 25 years now, and a number of those were spent running my own production studio in Hollywood. Most recently, I worked in the Software-as-a-Subscription (SaaS) field for five years. During that time, I worked on a project with the Oculus folks who are my next-door neighbors in Menlo Park. It gave me the inside scoop on virtual reality and helped me recognize the potential to revolutionize health care and education.

I embarked on a couple of different projects. The first was around music therapy, which is a proven science in senior living, where different melodies and different songs can ignite dormant neuro-aspects of the brain. Music has a way of improving cognition, especially when you can teleport somebody back to a 1950s jazz club for an experience that engages new areas of the brain.

That sent me into a new frontier, culminating in MyndVR a little over four years ago. We are looking at the ways VR can improve the lives of our senior citizens with different types of content and technology. All of my experience came together in an opportunity to give back to the greatest generation.

What market need inspired you and your co-founders to create MyndVR?

Brickler: My co-founder, Shawn Wiora, was operating about 80 skilled nursing facilities in Texas. They had been implementing this iPod-based, music memory program and achieving great results. The program helped with the behavior and mood of people in these facilities, and Shawn’s approach was perfectly aligned with the Oculus project I was working on.

We immediately clicked and said, “This technology probably has the power to lift older folks out of their four walls of existence and help them reconnect with all the wonderful things in life — whether that’s music, art or even nature.” The impetus of the idea was to create a virtual experience that brings the world back to these folks at a time where its joys are far less accessible.

With several VR companies tailored for senior living and for senior health care, how is MyndVR different?

Brickler: I think MyndVR has proven to be a leader, not just in the U.S., but in Canada and Australia as well. We have the largest library of curated content for seniors, carefully selected to fit our model of love, care and compassion. We’re also focused on ease of use and installation, all of which makes it possible for any family or caregiver to bring the world to their seniors. Those are all key differentiators when we talk to customers or when we deploy our service.

We’re also dealing with a major industry issue on the caregiver side. There’s a lot of stress and burnout due to staff shortages across the continuum, and we are making our platform available to caregiver staff so they can find meditative departures from their jobs for even 15 minutes. We’ve seen fantastic results with this so far.

When we spoke two years ago for SHN’s virtual reality report, MyndVR was focused on the experiential benefits VR can offer seniors — such as reminiscence therapy, travel experiences and family bonding. How has the company evolved since then?

Brickler: Virtual reality as a whole has evolved significantly over the last couple of years. Our partners, such as HTC and Pico, have done so much with headset technology alone, and this movement has driven a lot of new requirements. Over the next year, we’re going to see exciting things from these companies that will drive even further evolution.

Additionally, we’ve done so much work on MyndVR original content. A five-year, exclusive license with Littlstar, accompanied by the creation of MyndVR Studios, has drastically accelerated