BioLucid to Revolutionize Sharecare Offerings
The Sarasota-based company BioLucid, a technology firm notable locally for putting Ringling animation graduates to work developing medically focused virtual reality software, was acquired Thursday by Sharecare in a deal announced in New York during Advertising Week. But both officials with the Atlanta-based health care technology giant and at the former BioLucid say little will change in operations at the Sarasota offices.
BioLucid will now operate as the Sharecare Reality Lab, and company leaders Jeff Hazelton, Lawrence Kiley and Dale Park now join the Sharecare team. “We are now just part of a much bigger enterprise with a much bigger stage,” says Hazelton, now chief technology officer at the Sharecare Reality Lab. “This allows us to be a much bigger player and have a bigger role in digital health in general.” The BioLucid-developed You, a virtual reality-based digital platform allowing visual exploration of a personalized rendering of the human body, now is being touted on the homepage for Sharecare and can be incorporated in other products produced by the company. BioLucid employed 32 people at the time of the acquisition.
"Our acquisition of BioLucid will change nothing in Sarasota—except for the good,” says Russ Johannesson, Sharecare chief operating officer. “Sarasota's tight-knit business community is very supportive of BioLucid, and those I've spoken with are excited about us acquiring them. We are actively working on plans to hold an event in the near future to introduce the local business community to Sharecare, and we're looking forward to spending more time in Sarasota with our new colleagues."
BioLucid’s products earned wide acclaim for the company and for founder Hazelton. The technology will be featured in upcoming spots on nationally syndicated The Dr. Oz Show, including a spot where Star Trek star William Shatner will be given a tour of his own heart rendered in virtual reality. Hazelton predicts it is the virtual reality offerings from BioLucid that will be most widely employed with the rest of Sharecare’s products and services in helping better educate members of the public about their own health.
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Sharecare, which was launched in 2010 by WebMD founder Jeff Arnold and Dr. Mehmet Oz of The Dr. Oz Show, has become one of the most widely used platforms for sharing personalized information on health, and is built on a social content platform created by medical experts. Other products distributed by the company include AskMD and RealAge.
“Visual storytelling technologies—particularly virtual reality blended with 360-degree video—have boundless potential in healthcare and patient engagement, yet consumer-facing innovation in VR has been limited mostly to entertainment and gaming,” says Arnold, now Sharecare’s CEO, during the acquisition announcement. “By differentiating our platform with BioLucid’s immersive simulation of the human body, we can turn data into actionable, visual intelligence, and make a transformative impact on patient engagement, health literacy, medical education and therapy adherence.”
Photo by Wyatt Kostygan: Jeff Hazelton, pictured with his boat Virtual Reality.