James Blaha had spent years dreaming up ways to fix his strabismus, a condition more commonly known as crossed eyes. He had contemplated using two projectors with polarized filters and lenses to send different images to each eye, but when the Oculus Rift development kit came out for $300, he realized he could engineer a better solution.
He and his cofounder, Manish Gupta, came up with an idea for a game called Diplopia, which uses the Oculus Rift to project different images with varying contrast to each eye. They took this idea to crowdfunding site Indiegogo in the fall, where they raised $20,535, far surpassing their goal of $2,000. Two weeks after the campaign ended, Diplopia was accepted in the LEAP AXLR8R backed by SOSventures and Founders Fund, which aims to provide support for startups that want to build on top of Leap Motion’s gesture-sensing technology. The company’s controller gives Diplopia players a way to control the game and get instant visual feedback about the location of their hands.
Eye conditions like strabismus and amblyopia (also known as lazy eye) were originally thought to be treatable only in children, but 26-year-old Blaha says new research suggests video games could fix these conditions in adults. “I am not a doctor and I haven’t proven that my game will work for anyone,” Blaha told Fast Company. “That being said, I am working on doing studies to catalog any of the benefits of playing Diplopia, and playing it has improved the vision in my amblyopic eye substantially.”
Diplopia currently has a usable alpha version of the game, where the player bounces a ball on a paddle to destroy blocks. The plan is to ship a final version when Oculus releases a consumer version of its virtual-reality headset, which could arrive late this year or early next.
By partaking in this accelerator, Blaha will have access to Leap Motion engineers for mentorship and technical support. “We want to provide a UI that is intuitive enough so even people unfamiliar with computers can instantly start playing Diplopia,” he said.