Virtual reality is quickly gaining steam in the gaming industry. But an MIT startup is now aiming the technology at a different demographic, putting it to use as a health care tool for the elderly.

At last night’s MIT Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize pitch competition, Rendever earned the $25,000 grand prize for creating a virtual-reality platform that gives residents in assisted-living facilities the chance to explore the world virtually. The platform also provides cognitive therapy and tracks movement data to aid in early diagnosis of dementia.

“We’re using virtual reality to improve the way we age, so you don’t become isolated, don’t become depressed, and you can keep your mind happy and healthy,” said Rendever co-founder and CEO Dennis Lally, an MIT Sloan School of Management student who launched the startup with classmate Reed Hayes.

Rendever was one of eight finalist teams — winnowed down from 50 applicants — to pitch health care innovation ideas to a panel of expert judges and a capacity audience last night at the MIT Wong Auditorium in the Tang Center. The competition, part of the 14th annual MIT Sloan Healthcare and BioInnovations Conference (being held today in the MIT Media Lab), is organized by the student-run MIT Sloan Healthcare Club to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the health care space.

Read the full story at MIT News