Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Virtual Reality Medicine

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Virtual Reality Medicine

Article excerpt

BioLucid creates digital animations showing how the body works. Now the company has a new goal: to sell its suite of software applications directly to medical practitioners.

SARASOTA -- To get an idea where Jeff Hazelton is going with BioLucid, the company he co-founded in Sarasota, he shows off an app that lets heart patients see their artery blockage and how installing a stent might alleviate the problem.

Founded four years ago, BioLucid creates digital animations showing how the human body works, which the company markets to medical manufacturers and other industry professionals.

Now the company has a new goal: to sell its suite of applications directly to medical practitioners.

BioLucid has already created multiple examples of what it calls "living medical environments" -- basically "apps" that can highlight any number of organs and diseases.

One app shows diabetes patients how kidneys handle glucose.

Another demonstrates what artery blockages look like inside human beings and how, left untreated, they can blossom into a heart attack or cause heart disease, the nation's No. 1 killer.

To distribute this emerging product line, BioLucid, whose parent company is called Lucid Global, has established its own distribution system, called the Lucid Application Management System, or LAMS.

Employing about 30 people, BioLucid already holds the distinction of having hired more Ringling College of Art and Design graduates than any other single company in the world in 2012.

But Hazelton is not content to simply produce products that will help his company grow. He wants to revolutionize modern medicine by being at the center of an emerging industry built around what he calls "immersive technologies."

"This isn't really just about a company," Hazelton said, "more like an industry that can be grown here, where there are lots of opportunities."

The most labor-intensive part of his company's production, he notes, is creating realistic animated content that the company then depicts in an application.

To do that, he needs to attract the kinds of graduates that Ringling specializes in, ones with skills in complex computer animation and motion design.

That is welcome news at the college.

"Most of (our students) don't see enough opportunities to stay in Sarasota," said Charles Kovacs, director of career services at the college.

"Jeff and his company are the exceptions to that rule."

Still, convincing sought-after art students to stay here is a daunting task, especially since the school's 350 grads in 2012 were recruited by the likes of Intel Corp., Pixar Studios, Dreamworks and Leica.

Hazelton believes that while the video- gaming industry has moved to adopt the new high-tech toys, they have much wider applications.

BioLucid is also experimenting with immersive technologies that allow computer users to substitute hand motions made in the air for mouse clicks. …

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