Groundbreaking virtual reality therapy wins award
An immersive technology company has won a UK Digital Experience Award for its VR therapy programme for mental health.
Oxford VR’s pioneering mental health programme has received the Gold Award for Best Use of Emerging Technology. It is the second year in a row they have won an award in this category.
The UK Digital Experience Awards (DXA) recognise accomplishments in digital innovation by organisations, teams and individuals in the UK. The Best Use of Emerging Technology is awarded to companies for advances in research and digital innovation.
Oxford VR received the award for its programme to help people tackle social avoidance based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of therapy that helps people change patterns of thought and behaviours that can cause depression and anxiety.
The virtual reality programme helps people overcome their anxieties over social interaction by working through their "triggers". Individuals put on a VR headset and enter a simulated environment or situation that triggers their symptoms. During the session, they are asked to complete a number of exercises that are graded according to difficulty. Meanwhile a virtual coach can help with the responses.
By working through their triggers in simulated environments, individuals are reassured that they can try new experiences safely and without risk.
The programme is automated and delivered by a virtual coach. This allows human therapists to be deployed to treat the most urgent cases.
Arvind Tewari, Chief Operating Officer of Oxford VR, commented on receiving the award: "To be recognised as a Gold Winner in this category is an affirmation that our work is pushing the boundaries of this sector. As the world becomes ever more digital, pushed forward by lockdowns globally in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual platforms will play a larger role in society. It is fantastic to see the innovative work across the DXA finalists, who will be shaping the future of our digital world.”
Oxford VR was founded in 2017 by Daniel Freeman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University. Their mission is to develop cost effective digital solutions for mental healthcare using cutting-edge virtual reality technology.
Their first clinical trial used virtual reality to help people overcome their fear of heights. The trial showed that VR therapy can benefit individuals as well as support healthcare providers with staffing issues. The results were published in the prestigious publication in 2018.
NeuTigers: edge AI in healthcare
What is edge AI?
Edge AI is essentially a combination of edge computing and artificial intelligence. Algorithms are processed locally - directly on a mobile device or server - rather than in the cloud. This reduces cost, computing power and energy requirements. There are also claims that edge AI is so fast it is possible to reach near real-time analytics.
Edge AI devices include smart speakers, smart phones, laptops, robots, self-driven cars, drones, and surveillance cameras that use video analytics.
Who is NeuTigers?
NeuTigers is a spin-off company from Princeton University, formed in 2018 to apply edge AI and machine learning to solve challenges in healthcare, energy, productivity, and security.
With offices in Princeton, NJ, the company is based at one of the top AI accelerator programs of FutureLabs in New York, and has also established a subsidiary in Nice, France.
How is NeuTigers applying edge AI to healthcare?
The NeuTigers AI Technology Stack uses deep neural networks that mimic how the human brain perceives and interprets the world. The company has developed the StarDeepTM Smart Health Platform for health monitoring and biomedical imaging, to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosing diseases.
NeuTigers say the platform has the potential to monitor and screen for thousands of conditions, when used in combination with medical devices and smart sensors already deployed in healthcare settings.
Are there any real world examples?
In January NeuTigers launched CovidDeep, a tool that predicts COVID-19 with more than 90% accuracy, using physiological data from a wristband along with blood pressure and blood oxygen readings. It then analyses the data and gives a prediction within two minutes.
This week NeuTigers announced a new study to detect the early signs of complications with sickle cell anaemia. Conducted at a hospital in Paris, the research will begin by looking at changes to skin response, heart beat, sleep and temperature to predict an acute episode of sickle cell anaemia, and how this impacts on the patients’ disease conditions and quality of life.
The second phase of the project is to expand with prospective studies across different sites in EU, Africa and the US to explore the models' accuracy and clinical effectiveness.
Adel Laoui, CEO and founder of NeuTigers, says: “The best way to deal with a crisis is to avoid it happening in the first place. We are now entering a new era where medical early warning systems have become a reality.
“We are excited at the possibility of deploying a technology that can save lives of patients dealing with sickle cell anaemia. The potential of the StarDeep platform to dramatically improve patient outcomes while slashing some of the highest costs of healthcare makes it one of the most exciting developments in preventative personal medicine.”