Leonardo DiCaprio Joins Neuro VR Startup MindMaze as Investor, Adviser

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Leonardo DiCaprio

Earlier this year, the company launched Mask, which decodes real-life facial expressions and turns them into a VR avatar.

Virtual reality startup MindMaze is expanding from its roots in health care into media and entertainment with the help of a well-known backer.  

Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in MindMaze and joined the company as an adviser. The size of the actor's investment was not disclosed. 

Five-year-old MindMaze, which is based out of Lausanne, Switzerland, but has U.S. headquarters in San Francisco, has been working on neuro VR and augmented reality technology with uses in the health care space. Its first product, MindMotion PRO, was a portable device used to help people rehab from brain injuries. It expanded into consumer-facing technology earlier this year with Mask, electrodes that can be installed into a VR headset that turn real-life facial expressions into digital avatars. 

CEO Tej Tadi sees Mask as the first step in MindMaze's plans to expand further into the entertainment space. That's where DiCaprio, who won an Academy Award for his work on The Revenant, comes in. "He saw the potential to disrupt the way that content is made and consumed," Tadi tells The Hollywood Reporter. "He brings that direct credibility and genuine stakeholder piece to the table." 

MindMaze also sees applications for its technology to drive social action and to support advocacy causes, such as tackling climate change, an issue that has been especially important to DiCaprio over the years. 

"MindMaze technology has already impacted the lives of many people, and it is poised to define the way we will experience and create content in the future," DiCaprio said in a statement. "I am excited about the possibilities of MindMaze's technology, especially for its potential to be a driving force in media and entertainment in the years to come."

He joins a roster of investors, including Hinduja Group, that have invested more than $100 million into the business, which was most recently valued at $1 billion. The company also has advisors and board members from Baxter, HBO, Stanford University and UC San Francisco.