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SBIR awardee RalphVR addresses senior citizen loneliness with virtual reality

Lexington-based RalphVR uses virtual reality to address the rising problem of senior citizen loneliness and isolation, which can greatly exacerbate declining mental and social faculties. Its primary product, VRTogether, was developed utilizing multidisciplinary research to create a virtual environment that fosters strong feelings of physical connection, regardless of actual distance.  


“We are one of the most innovative virtual reality companies in the world, and we operate right here in Lexington, Kentucky,” said Richard Hoagland, founder and CEO of RalphVR. “Our original VR application, Daydream Blue, won Gold Prize in the international Oculus competition and was the first social VR game on commercial mobile VR headsets.” 


RalphVR also won first place at the Meta’s international hackathon for Easily, an application that empowers users to draw like an expert.  


Hoagland acknowledges the research conducted through partnerships with the University of Kentucky as being a driving factor for RalphVR’s innovation and the success it has had with projects other than VRTogether.  


“Collaboration is necessary to navigate the interconnected complexities of contemporary life,” he said. Expertise is a multiplier on the desired outcome of a cash infusion. Passion is just necessary.” 


When asked about the ingredients for a successful entrepreneur, Hoagland said that passion, collaboration, expertise, and money were all crucial. He believes people are the secret ingredient that makes Kentucky a great place to start and scale a business.  


“The expertise, skill, and generosity of folks’ time from across this state has been tremendous,” he said. I can’t list everyone, but I would like to express admiration for the talent, passion, and expertise of our University of Kentucky collaborators and the knowledge and feedback we have received from Thrive Center for Healthy Aging.”  



The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) | Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are known as America’s Seed Fund. They provide vital non-dilutive capital in the form of grants and contracts for promising technologies, while allowing founders to maintain their intellectual property.


Kentucky is a national leader in maximizing SBIR/STTR, both supporting entrepreneurs through the application process and providing matching funds through its SBIR|STTR Match Program. To learn more about SBIR|STTR, click here; to learn more about Kentucky’s matching funds, click here; to view KY Innovation’s SBIR|STTR 101 Series, click here; to get in touch with KY Innovation, email us at

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