Building on the research of the present project, the feelSpace GmbH, a spin-off company at the University Osnabrück, has been founded in late 2015. The feelSpace is a spin-off SME of the Neurobiopsychology research group of Prof. Dr. Peter König at the University of Osnabrück. It develops and provides tactile navigation belts for the blind, visually impaired and elderly to improve navigation and orientation in everyday life. Three female researchers worked in the research team since 2011, before preparing the foundation of the startup in 2015. The founders aimed to transfer the knowledge they acquired in several studies with the tactile belt with seeing and blind participants. By now, the feelSpace GmbH achieved the transfer from a research prototype of the tactile belt to a new version applicable for blind, visually impaired and elderly users where the navigation belt can be controlled by a barrier-free mobile app. In 2017 an external investor could be acquired, largely speeding up product development and market entry. Further details can be found on the website of the feelSpace GmbH.
We pushed internet technologies for the study of spatial navigation. In an online study with more than 2000 participants world wide we investigated and characterised spatial navigation based on visual cues. Based on this experience SciCovery has been founded as a spin-off company of the University Osnabrück in early 2017 to translate these research results. It offers easy to use high quality web based psychological and psychophysical testing with integrated design, implementation and data analysis. It is presently founded by a national Exist grant and just entered the market. For further information see the SciCovery website.
In a number of studies in this project we explored translational perspectives. We made an effort to translate our research on sensorimotor coupling in the domain of the oculomotor system to clinical applications. We could demonstrate specific deficits of oculomotor behaviour in Parkinson patients and differentiate in how these are compensated by standard therapy or deep brain stimulation. This contributes to further optimise the therapy of this large patient group. Furthermore, we contributed to an investigation of the impact of deep brain stimulation on navigation and driving behavior in Parkinson patients. The results of this study suggest that deep brain stimulation seems to have a beneficial effect on driving ability in the patients and, thus, that driving permission for patients with deep brain stimulation treatment should not be handled more restrictively than permissions for Parkinson patients with other treatments.Another potential application of approaches developed in this project is in patients with autism spectrum disorder, where we investigated alterations of interhemispheric connectivity during visual processing. These constitute a characteristic deficit in this disorder and might have potential for use as network-based biomarker. Finally, potential clinical applications were explored in a study of crossmodal effects in the context of music therapy, where we demonstrated that the quality of auditory inputs (music) has a modulating input on neural signatures of pain processing.