After months of experiencing debilitating dizziness, the Shark Tank star hit upon an innovative solution.
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 of 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’sNewport-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, hourlong 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 cellphone 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 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.