Leave it to Mark Cuban to turn a harrowing health scare into potential profits. After being cured of a mysterious condition that left him with severe dizziness and other symptoms, the billionaire entrepreneur has formed a partnership to patent a virtual reality (VR) version of his treatment program. Cuban recently opened up on his blog about the "very real and nerve-wracking experience" that led to his newest business venture.
In May 2015, Cuban writes, he returned home from a long walk in New York City feeling dizzy and nauseated. Doctors told him it was stress related and suggested he see a psychiatrist. But Cuban refused to believe it and began skimming the internet for his own answers. The search eventually led to Howard T. Mango, an audiologist at California's Newport-Mesa Audiology Balance and Ear Institute. Hours of testing later, Cuban was told that his eyes and brain were out of sync due to a damaged otolith, a structure in the inner ear that senses gravity and movement.
Mango put him on the Epley Omniax System, a rotary chair that tilts and turns while users wear eye-tracking headgear. Daily, hour-long treatments with the technology improved Cuban's condition. But with only 20 Epley Chairs in the world--most of which are located in veterans' hospitals to treat head trauma resulting in dizziness--Cuban knew he'd struggle after he returned home. Watching Mango's treatment videos on his laptop in a dark room didn't have the same effect.
Then he remembered his recent purchase of virtual reality goggles, which he paired with a cell phone playing the treatment videos to create a comparable experience to the Epley Chair. Within a couple months of using the VR method, Cuban was feeling so much better that he was able to cut back treatment to just once a week.
Today, he uses the system only every couple of weeks as a safety measure. But it's consuming his time in another way: He and Mango are patenting the VR program, which is currently being tested on patients at Mango's practice in California.